How Vietnam is LGBTQIA+ friendly for Foreigners?
ABROADER Team June 01, 2023 9 minute read
Discover Vietnam’s unique opportunity to position itself as an LGBTQIA+ friendly country for Foreigners seeking
Vietnam has experienced notable advancements concerning LGBTQIA+ rights and the level of acceptance within society. While attitudes towards the Vietnam’s LGBTQIA+ community may vary across the country, Vietnam is relatively LGBTQIA+ friendly for foreigners, especially when compared to certain other nations in the region.
LGBTQIA+ are those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (which is represented by the more inclusive LGBT initialism). Moreover, it includes those who identify as queer or questioning, intersex, asexual, and individuals whose identities extend beyond the commonly used expressions of sexuality and gender.
LGBTQIA+ Rights and Protections in Vietnam
From Progress to Pride: The Journey of LGBTQIA+ Rights
In recent years, Vietnam has made notable progress toward recognizing the importance of the LGBTQIA+ community. Since 2013, the government took a significant step by removing same-sex unions from the list of prohibited relationships, although it did not establish legal recognition for such relationships. Not to mention, same-sex relationships and sexual acts are legal, and the ban on same-sex marriages was lifted in January 2015. This positive shift is further exemplified by the annual occurrence of Viet Pride marches in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, as well as the representation of gay characters in mainstream television and films.
Recognition and Empowerment: Advancing Vietnam’s LGBTQIA+ Rights
Like many country, Vietnam’s LGBTQIA+ community used to face many human rights abuses due to misconceptions and stereotypes, as highlighted in Human Rights Watch’s 2020 report. At the time there was a prevailing belief in Vietnam is that same-sex attraction is a diagnosable mental health condition. This erroneous belief stems from the government failing to effectively communicate that same-sex attraction is a natural variation of human experience.
However, changes have been made in 2022 with Vietnam’s Health Ministry aligned its health policy with global standards that same-sex attraction and being transgender are not mental health conditions. The spokesperson of the Ministry also cited that international health organisations have affirmed sexual orientation and gender identity are not illnesses, advocating for non-discriminatory health rights for LGBT individuals.
Protecting LGBTQIA+ Individuals
The movement from the Health Ministry of Vietnam involved a set of instructions that all medical centres across the country must follow. These instructions aim to promote a better understanding of homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgender individuals among medical professionals, staff, and patients:
- Information Propagation: Medical centres should enhance the dissemination of accurate information regarding homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgender people.
- Gender Equality and Respect: Health workers must ensure gender equality and treat LGBT patients with respect during medical examinations and treatment. Discrimination and prejudices against these groups should be actively avoided.
- Non-Illness Classification: Homosexuality, bisexuality, and being transgender should not be considered as illnesses. It is important to acknowledge and respect the diverse sexual orientations and gender identities of individuals.
- Non-Interference and Psychological Assistance: Medical practitioners should not interfere with or force treatment upon LGBT patients.
- Internal Review and Inspection: Medical examination and treatment centres, as well as practitioners, should enhance internal review and inspection efforts. This is to ensure compliance with professional codes in medical services as required by the law.
Homosexuality is not a disorder, calling out self-proclaimed “treatments, cures”
As the country adopted the Global LGBT Health Standard and distributed relevant documents to address reports of compulsory medical examinations and treatments targeting the LGBTQIA+ community.
The ministry emphasized that homosexuality is not a medical condition and, therefore, cannot be treated or cured. They referenced the findings of the American Psychiatric Association and the World Health Organization (WHO) to support this statement.
LGBT Community: A Diverse and Integral Part of Society
The health ministry also acknowledges that the Vietnam’s LGBTQIA+ community is a diverse and integral part of society. Homosexuality, like heterosexuality, is a natural variation of human sexuality. It is essential to recognize and respect the rights, dignity, and healthcare needs of individuals from the LGBT community.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has also affirmed that homosexuality is not a disorder. In fact, the WHO has explicitly called for the depathologization of same-sex attraction and stressed the importance of ensuring equitable access to healthcare for all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. The health ministry draws upon this global perspective to reinforce their position.
In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. This was a major step forward in ensuring that LGBT people are not discriminated against in the healthcare system.
Social Acceptance and Attitudes towards LGBTQIA+ Community
Vietnamese society is undergoing a positive transformation towards greater acceptance and inclusivity for the LGBTQIA+ community, despite the presence of discrimination and prejudice. This positive shift is primarily driven by the progressive attitudes of younger generations, who are increasingly supportive and open-minded regarding LGBTQIA+ issues.
Vietnam has joined the global movement in acknowledging that same-sex attraction and gender identity are natural aspects of human diversity. The recent directive from Vietnam’s Health Ministry is a significant step forward in upholding fundamental rights. This directive provides a stronger foundation for LGBTQIA+ individuals to express themselves freely and openly, without fear of negative consequences.
At ABROADER, it’s not just about a logo makeover; we have long been supporters of the LGBT community, valuing equality and self-expression. In honor of Pride Month, we proudly feature our partners, ICS Center and The Institute for Social, Economic and Environmental Research (ISEE), who actively contribute to promoting LGBTQIA+ equality in Vietnam.
These developments demonstrate a promising trajectory towards a more inclusive and understanding society in Vietnam. While challenges and pockets of resistance may persist, the growing acceptance and recognition of the Vietnam’s LGBTQIA+ community’s rights and experiences reflect the country’s evolving social landscape.
LGBTQIA+ Activism and Community Support
LGBTQIA+ youth in Vietnam have emerged as powerful advocates for their rights, leading the way in activism and community engagement. Through their organizing efforts, they have been able to create meaningful change and challenge societal norms. Whether it’s organizing events, participating in vibrant Pride marches, or leveraging the power of social media, these young activists are driving conversations and fostering acceptance among their peers and the wider society.
Media representation of LGBTQIA+ individuals has improved with diverse characters and storylines in TV shows, movies, and online content. Social media connects the community, providing safe spaces for sharing stories and seeking support. LGBTQIA+ organizations and online platforms offer safe spaces and resources. Youth activism, media representation, and community spaces create a more inclusive environment for LGBTQIA+ individuals in Vietnam.
Experiences of Foreign LGBTQIA+ Individuals in Vietnam
Foreign LGBTQIA+ visitors to Vietnam generally have positive experiences due to the country’s reputation for hospitality and inclusivity. Although public displays of affection may attract disapproving looks, it is important to note that this applies to LGBTQIA+. As long as LGBTQIA+ travelers exercise discretion and show respect for local culture, they will encounter no significant issues during their visit to Vietnam.
Want to contribute to the development of the LGBTQIA+ community in Vietnam? Try traveling to study with ABROADER.
Tourism and LGBTQ Friendly Spaces
Despite the limited display of rainbow flags, LGBTQIA+ travellers can discover inclusive venues for socializing and connecting in Vietnam. The country generally provides a positive and accepting environment for LGBTQIA+ individuals, whether local or foreign, as long as cultural norms and sensitivities are respected.
While Vietnam is often regarded as LGBTQIA+ friendly, public attitudes may vary based on factors such as education, urbanization, and generational gaps. Older generations, influenced by more conservative times, may still hold traditional perspectives on gender and sexuality. Conversely, the younger generation tends to be more accepting and open-minded. LGBTQIA+ foreigners should exercise caution, respect local customs and laws, and seek guidance from local LGBTQIA+ organizations for support and advice.
Acceptance levels for LGBTQIA+ individuals can differ depending on location, social circles, and personal encounters. It is advisable to be discreet and respectful of local customs and laws while remaining aware of one’s surroundings. Notably, acceptance and attitudes towards LGBTQIA+ individuals may vary among different generations and regions within Vietnam.
Major cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City generally exhibit more openness and acceptance, with visible LGBTQIA+ communities and establishments such as bars, clubs, and LGBTQIA+-friendly hotels.
By being mindful and engaging with local LGBTQIA+ communities, LGBTQIA+ travellers can navigate their experiences in Vietnam with greater understanding, ensuring a positive and enjoyable stay in the country.
Vietnam’s LGBTQIA+ friendliness for foreigners
Vietnam’s progress in LGBTQIA+ friendliness for foreigners reflects an ongoing journey towards acceptance and inclusivity. The country has witnessed positive changes in societal attitudes, legal advancements, and visibility of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Despite these advancements, challenges persist. Workplace discrimination, limited access to healthcare, lack of legal recognition for gender identity, and resistance in conservative areas remain issues that require attention. Collaboration between activists and policymakers is crucial to address these challenges at all levels.
In honour of Pride 2023, ABROADER is proud to unveil our vibrant and unique LGBTQIA+ themed logo #FreetobeME-ABROADER, as we proudly support the LGBTQ+ community this Pride Month.
As a representative of Vietnam education, we are committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for interns from this community to intern in Vietnam with policies and procedures that applied to us and our partner host companies. During this summer internship, we have been getting positive reports of interns from the LGBTQ+ community and we would love to share their experience on later articles.
On Google Maps we updated our location badges as a small celebration of LGBTQIA+ inclusivity and diversity. Embark on a journey of acceptance as you navigate through the vibrant streets, and welcoming establishments. Whether you’re searching for pride events, or safe havens, ABROADER on Google Maps is here to help you find your way. Let your heart guide you to ABROADER’s warm embrace, where acceptance knows no bounds.
As more travelers seek inclusive destinations, Vietnam has the opportunity to further establish itself as LGBTQIA+ friendly. By addressing areas for improvement and striving for comprehensive equality, Vietnam can become a welcoming place that celebrates LGBTQIA+ individuals from all over the world.