Showing posts with label International-Viet-Nam. Show all posts
Showing posts with label International-Viet-Nam. Show all posts

May 25, 2016

World Freedom Ratings

 During his time visiting Vietnam, President Barack Obama urged the communist government to learn from its past human rights abuses, insisting that greater freedom for Vietnamese citizens is the key to the economic success the country desires. The development comes only a day after the President lifted what was left of a U.S. arms embargo on the country stemming from the Vietnam War.

Below are visualizations overviewing freedom rankings across the globe, top U.S. trade partners and Vietnam's GDP per capita growth over time

 (Interactive Graph) 

August 3, 2013

Vietnamese Gay Activist Celebrate the First Year of Gay Pride

Cyclists decorated with balloons and rainbow flags take part in Vietnam's first ever gay pride parade.

Introduction  (Adam Gonzalez)
To many the gay marriage situation vis-a-vis human right do not make sense being that gay rights you can argue are part of human rights. What gays ask for in any nation is the freedom to be treated like everyone else? So Why is this bastion of very little human rights is been ok with allowing gays to be treated like the rest of the population.
Actually I don’t think is complicated. First they are making an effort to show everybody is equal and there are no demons that are hard working Vietnamese.. If they are not against the state the state will treat them equally. The second part of this answer is the lack of religion and churches to be on top of the government telling them that the Apocalypse or any other catastrophe is coming is gays get married.

HANOI — The Vietnamese government is routinely criticized for its human rights record, but in the past year gay rights activists have made headway for their cause nationwide.

A year after the "Viet Pride" rally that put Vietnamese lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists in an international spotlight, advocates are preparing rainbow flags and matching t-shirts to celebrate Viet Pride 2013, a Sunday celebration featuring film screenings, a flash mobs, fashion shows and, in Hanoi, the all-important bicycle parade.

The last year has been a momentous one for the country’s LGBT rights community. In 2012, proposals to grant same-sex marriage licenses were part of serious discussions over revisions to the country's Marriage and Family Law, and speculation over whether Vietnam's would become the first country in Southeast Asia to legalize same-sex marriage ran high.

"I think from last year the social debate has been widespread to different corners of society including policymakers and lawmakers in the National Assembly," said Le Quang Binh, an analyst with the Hanoi-based Institute for the Studies of Society, Economy and Environment.

While a draft proposal recently approved by the government does not go so far as to legalize same-sex marriage, it does give homosexual couples more rights and, Binh says, represents a step towards same-sex marriage.

"We lift the ban on same-sex marriage but we don’t legalize same-sex marriage .... we recognize that same-sex couples [live] together as a family," she said. "They might have kids, property, other common things, and the government would not intervene into that."

In a society historically based on a family model of heterosexual marriage, familiarizing those with traditional views to new types of family structures requires lots of discussion. Over the last few years, Vietnam's LGBT community has grown more confident in their activism, even conducting training workshops for local journalists to improve their representation of gay people in local media.

In a concerted push against discrimination, gay rights advocates are even altering how Vietnamese language describes gay people by asking employers to use workplace posters that explain what homosexuality is and how common derogatory Vietnamese terms such as "bi-gay" -  which suggests being afflicted with a disease - can be offensive.

"The workplace is one of the three channels that can reach people very effectively," said Nguyen Thanh Tam, a Viet Pride 2013 co-organizer who emphasizes the importance of changing people's ideas about what it means to be gay. "People spend a lot of time at home, school and at work. We can do very little things at school right now, but we can do something in the workplace."

For author Nguyen Ngoc Thach, who recently published Vietnam’s first biography of a transgender person, ‘Transgender’, which has nearly sold out, mere professional success is a sign of changing times.

His upcoming book, "Mum, I’m Gay," a worldwide history of LGBT movement, is scheduled to publish in days. Although many Vietnamese groups have been able to publish non-fiction books on gay rights in the past, Thach says his latest work is different.

"The main difference is when some organizations publish the book, the publishing department of Vietnam doesn’t know that. They cannot sell it at the bookstore. But with "Mum, I’m Gay": it’s published by the Publishing Department of Vietnam, so a lot of bookstores will sell it and people who come to the bookstore will see it and buy it."

Although Thach agrees same-sex marriage is important for the LGBT community, he thinks more should be done to help transgender people. In Vietnam hospitals still can only offer sex reassignment surgery to intersex people, and transgender people cannot change their gender on official documents.

June 21, 2013

I am Ready to Be a Communist in VietNam Because I am No Threat to Them

  Huynh Nguyen Dang Khoa, creator of Vietnam's first gay sitcom

HANOI -- International human rights advocates rarely give communist authorities here a thumbs up. Vietnamese bloggers, folk singers and journalists are behind bars for deeds and words that in many countries are considered birthright freedoms.
Yet in one respect, Vietnam's powers-that-be seem open-minded. As the U.S. Supreme Court pondersthe constitutionality of same-sex marriage, Vietnam's National Assembly delegates have agreed to debate the same moral and legal question, raising the possibility that Vietnam could become the first Asian country to sanction such unions.
"I'm optimistic," says activist Tran Khac Tung during a recent "LGBT" political workshop. The English acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender has become shorthand here for a cause that has swiftly moved from a taboo to a popular topic of political discourse.
No turtle here
In a culture with folklore that exalts the plodding perseverance of the turtle, the advance has been swift . A process that required decades of struggle in the West has been compressed into a few years here. Only recently have Vietnam's gays and lesbians stepped from their shells in such numbers large enough to be considered a movement. Last summer, Hanoi hosted Vietnam's first gay pride parade that, unlike other unsanctioned demonstrations here, did not result in any arrests.
Things were much different only six years ago, when Le Quang Binh left the international non-profit Oxfam to founded iSEE, a Hanoi-based research and social justice advocacy group. There was scant data regarding gays and lesbians homosexuality in Vietnam. The LGBT community, such as it was, could most readily be found in a variety of online forums that attracted tens of thousands of participants, the vast majority of whom used pseudonyms.
When Binh reached out to the Ho Chi Minh City-based webmasters of these forums, some suspected he might be a government agent. Achieving a sense of trust, the scattered constituency agreed to collaborate and promote openness and equal rights. At an early strategy session, activists targeted 2020 as the year Vietnam would legalize same-sex marriage. Could they beat their goal by seven years? "Ask the prime minister," Binh says, laughing.
Gay-bashing parents
The budding movement worked to change the LGBT's negative image in mass media and promote acceptance on university campuses, leveraging the nation's youthful demographics. As in the U.S., their efforts spawned supportive groups such as Vietnam PFLAG, meaning "parents and friends of lesbians and gays" — an important development, Binh says, given that gay-bashing in Vietnam typically takes the form of parents beating children. Broadening support led to education workshops with National Assembly delegates and the Ministry of Justice.
Initially, dissident bloggers and others suggested that communist authorities were simply paying lip service to a movement that isn't really a threat to the government, unlike critics who challenge the Communist Party's authority. In the human rights realm, it's an easy box to check off, as one Western diplomat put it.
There is less cynicism now. "I've seen there's change," Binh says. "They understand that human rights is human rights. It's the right thing to do." And as one box gets checked off, they could move on to others. "We always push for more freedom, more justice, more equality," Binh says. "We test the waters."
Viet-Nam’s First Gay Sitcom is a HIT!

May 4, 2013

Vietnam Has it’s Problems But Not in Gay Rights

Participants carry a rainbow flag while attending Vietnam's first-ever gay pride parade in Hanoi on August 5, 2012. (Nguyen Huy Kham/Reuters)
Vietnam's burgeoning gay rights movement got a major boost recently when the country's Ministry of Health came out in support of legalizing same-sex marriage. At a hearing to discuss marriage law reforms on April 16 in Hanoi, deputy minister of health Nguyen Viet Tien proposed that same-sex marriage be made legal immediately: "As human beings, homosexuals have the same rights as everyone else to live, eat, love, and be loved," he said, according to local media.
Surprisingly tender language from a government functionary--but then, much about the LGBT community in Vietnam defies expectations. Chastised for its human rights record and near the bottom of international surveys of press freedom and government corruption, Vietnam may well become the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage. Lawmakers have been actively reviewing the issue since July of last year. In addition to the health minister's statement, several other provincial governments and unions have publically expressed support for either full marriage rights or some form of legal recognition of same-sex partnerships.
Just as surprising is the speed at which the gay rights movement in Vietnam has developed. Marginalized only a few years ago, the LGBT community is not only finding support in the legal sphere but has been winning broad acceptance in the media and in public life. From Vietnam's first gay parade last August in Hanoi to an openly transgender contestant on last season's Vietnam Idol (anAmerican Idol franchise), it's as if the closet door has exploded off its hinges. International attention grew in February of this year when Vietnamese photographer Maika Elan won a World Press Photo Award for her series The Pink Choice, documenting the lives of Vietnamese gay couples.
"I'm very proud of this movement," said Le Quang Binh, director of the Hanoi-based Institute for Social and Economic Environment (iSee), a non-profit group supporting the rights of minority groups in Vietnam. "The public opinion of LGBT [community] was very negative in the past. It has become very, very supportive and positive today. So I think that's a huge change just within five years. I think that's a really fast change for Vietnam, or even compared with any other country."
Perhaps the best example of the mainstreaming of the LGBT community is the Youtube-based sitcom My Best Gay Friends, which has become a legitimate viral hit in Vietnam, often garnering more than one million views per episode. Written, directed by, and starring 21-year-old film student Dang Khoa (Vietnam's own Lena Dunham?), the show chronicles the lives of young gay, lesbian, and transgender characters in Ho Chi Minh City in a breezy style, complete with canned laughter.

Shot on a Canon 600D with no budget and Khoa's friends as actors, My Best Gay Friends is not quite HBO-ready, but it's precocious and clever. Most significantly, the characters on the show aren't struggling with their identities in any way--being gay is just a matter of course.
Khoa said that he created the show because he was tired of the way gays had been portrayed in films and on television in Vietnam, where they're generally relegated to being either tragic figures or mincing comic-relief sidekicks. "I see my life as very normal," he said. "I see gay life as very normal. The gay community also has family, has friends, has love."
So why has Vietnam been so receptive to gay rights? Partly it's been the result of good, old-fashioned activism by groups such as iSee and Saigon-based Information Connecting and Sharing, an LGBT rights NGO. Tran Khac Tung, director of ICS, says that his group and iSee specifically aimed to improve the representation of gay issues in the media.
"We worked a lot with the media right from the beginning. We analyzed the newspapers to see how stigmatizing and discriminating their articles were," said Tung. "We engaged the media, and step by step they became familiar with the issue and then a lot of their reports were not so negative and more neutral and more ethical."
Tung says the issue of marriage rights came into focus last year when informal same-sex wedding parties were broken up by local authorities in the provinces of Ca Mau and Kien Giang. The media covered the stories extensively--and sympathetically--and gay rights have remained in the spotlight ever since.
"This is the result of a long process--the fruit that we've been cultivating so far. I'm surprised at how fast it is, but I'm not surprised that we've reached here," he said.
Another reason for the acceptance of the LGBT community, suggests iSee's Binh, is that Vietnam's predominant religions aren't outspoken against homosexuality. According to some estimates, over 80 percent of Vietnamese identify as Buddhist and around 8 percent are Christian, mainly Catholic, but the influence of the church in public affairs is muted.
Also, there has long been at least some LGBT presence in the entertainment world. Vietnam has a well-known transgender singer and actor, Cindy Thai Tai, and several other celebrities are widely considered to be gay, even if they haven't officially come out. "They do not go public at all and it is not necessary because people just take for granted that they are gay," is how one Vietnamese friend puts it.
Still, it's slightly ironic that a country with an "abysmal human rights record," according to Human Rights Watch, is simultaneously a leader in the region in advancing gay rights. HRW's 2013 World Report singles Vietnam out for repression of political dissent, curtailing freedom of expression and religion, and lack of an independent judiciary. It's a bit like coming home with four Fs and one A+ on your report card.
Clearly, gay rights are not seen as a serious threat to anyone in power. Whether the issue remains compartmentalized or if there will be some kind of spillover into other areas of human rights will be interesting to watch. But for now, the march towards LGBT equality is starting to feel inevitable.
On the legislative front, the next key indicator will be coming soon. In May, Vietnam's governing body, the National Assembly, holds its semi-annual meeting. On the agenda this time are revisions to Vietnam's constitution, and Binh says they are pressing to have current language, which defines marriage as between a man and woman, changed to gender-neutral. He says that will be a bellwether of how far the country is ready to go.
Most observers believe the marriage issue still won't come up for final legal review until next year. But Binh is confident some progress will be made, even if same-sex marriage is not fully legalized. "I'm quite sure that they will drop the article that prohibits same sex marriage in Vietnam," he said. "But what recognition there will be, we don't know. I think they might provide some legal protection in terms of property, in terms of representation and probably in terms of children, like adoption. They may not legalize same sex marriage yet, but some kind of legal protection will be provided for same sex couples. That's my expectation."
According to Tung of ICS, no matter what happens with same-sex marriage this time around, gay rights activists are playing the long game. "I always say that when you win, you win--and if you lose, you still win," he said. "This is a great opportunity for us to educate our own community and educate this society. The law actually is not the goal. The goal is to reach equality so we wouldn't face any discrimination--so you can live as who you are."
In Vietnam, no less.

The Atlantic

September 26, 2012

1-2 Thousand Flashmob for Gay Rights in Viet-Nam

 Rainbow flags, Lady Gaga and dance routines in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi celebrate the fight for LGBT rights in Vietnam


LGBT rights flashmob in Hanoi
Vietnam celebrated LGBT rights with dancing and music at two flashmobs in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi on Sunday.
Rainbow flags, dance routines and a helium balloon release created a colorful spectacle with 1,200 people gathering in total in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi to present the message ‘Yeu la Yeu’ (Love is Love).
The events were professionally organized by the Institute for Studies of Society, Economy and Environment (iSEE) and Information Connecting and Sharing (ICS), with a slick website providing all the information, including a dance routine tutorial.
Director of iSEE Le Quang Binh said:
‘It is a public event that empowers gays and lesbians to come out and feel proud about themselves. Dancing together, hugging and holding hands help LGBT feel confident to mobilize and carry out collective actions.’
The flashmobs were supported by the national broadcaster's youth-orientated channel VTV6 and local press reported positively on the events. 
Le said in an interview with Gay Star News last month that LGBT rights have moved on significantly in Vietnam thanks to iSEE’s five-year strategy of educating the media.
This year has seen several milestones in the progression of LGBT rights in the southeast Asian nation.
In June the government announced a consultation into legalizing same-sex marriage in the communist one-party state and in August the first Vietnam Pride was held with a cycle ride through the streets of Hanoi.
See more photographs of the flashmobs on the Yeu La Yeu Facebook page.
Watch a video of the flashmob in Ho Chi Minh City here:
Watch a video of the flashmob in Hanoi here:

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