With LGBTQ+ rights making headlines in Laos, neighboring Vietnam has adopted global LGBTQ+ health standards to prevent discrimination and provide dignity to members of the community.
In August, Vietnam’s Health Ministry announced that being attracted to the same sex and being transgender are not mental health conditions. The decision aligns Vietnam’s health policy with global health and human rights norms.
However, quite contrary to our neighbor’s liberal outlook, just last week a notice was issued by the Lao People’s Revolutionary Youth Union which banned transgender participants from beauty pageants. This decision was slammed by many Lao citizens and organizations on their social media. The union also suspended a beauty pageant that wanted to give a platform to transgender participants.
The new directive by Vietnam states, “the American Psychiatric Association and the World Health Organization (WHO) have confirmed that homosexuality is entirely not an illness, therefore homosexuality cannot be ‘cured’ nor need[s] to be ‘cured’ and cannot be converted in any way.”
This acknowledgment and recognition from the Vietnam government will also allow LGBTQ+ people access to healthcare services and information without discrimination even though many people in Vietnamese society still harbor negative stereotypes against them, which lead to human rights abuses.
Vietnam joins the list of Asian countries like Thailand, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and India that affirm an individual’s right to be in a same-sex relationship or reclaim their gender identity. This much-needed move will help especially young people accept and express themselves without being scared about negative reactions.