Vietnam’s laws, policies and decrees do not explicitly discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals but their rights are not legally protected and they are socially marginalised.
The state promotes a model of a married heterosexual couple with two children in the media and through its public policy campaigns. Families that comply are able to obtain membership of the Communist Party and run for office; women are eligible for micro-credit programmes. Same-sex couples cannot marry and are thus ineligible for the benefits that married couples enjoy. Family laws, with regard to child custody, inheritance and property, do not protect same-sex couples.
In order to understand how LGBT civil society organisations can affect legal and social change with regard to the laws that regulate sexual norms and unions, this empirical study explores the following two examples of collective action in Vietnam: 1. The mobilisation strategies of civil society organisations to hold gay pride events. 2. Collective action to legalise same-sex ceremonies and marriages.
- Over the past five years there has been a big increase in the public visibility of LGBT persons and civil society organisations. The first LGBT Pride event was held in 2012 in spite of legal restrictions on peaceful assembly.
- Laws regarding family and marriage are selectively enforced. While same-sex marriage is prohibited by law, some couples are able to hold unofficial wedding ceremonies without being fined.