Challenging the Normativity of the State: LGBTQIA+ Rights in Vietnam

Prior to attending the ‘Learning in an International Environment’ module, my knowledge and understanding of Vietnam was quite limited. Upon doing some brief research, the LGBTQIA+ culture of Vietnam became of great interest to me. Although same-sex relationships are not illegal, they are not in fact ‘legal’ either. In 2013, the National Assembly of Vietnam repealed article 64 from their original constitution, replacing it with article 36, which states that “men and women have the right to marry and divorce. Marriage must adhere to the principles of voluntariness, progressiveness, monogamy, and equality…”. In 2014, a sub-committee of the National Assembly decided to remove those provisions which gave legal recognition to same sex married couples from the bill passed. The new bill which was approved by the National Assembly and took effect in 2015 allowed same-sex marriages, but without recognition or protection from the state.

The Vietnamese LGBTQIA+ community remained positive in response to this news, stating that this legislature was at least a steppingstone towards full equality. The allowance of same sex couples to be married represents a jump forward in acceptance and progressiveness on the part of the Vietnamese state. In 2001, survey results represented the fact that 82% of Vietnamese people saw homosexuality as something that is never tolerable. Nonetheless, in 2007, another survey provided results which indicated that 80% of students of junior high and high school ages saw nothing ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ about homosexuality. Albeit homosexuality once being considered largely taboo, awareness raised surrounding the LGBTQIA+ community over the last 20 years has resulted in basic human rights, such as the right to marry whoever you please, being adhered to.

I am excited to attend the ‘Learning in an International Environment’ module for numerous reasons. Mainly, I’m most looking forward to the opportunity to learn about how the Vietnamese state responds to progressive social movements that may challenge the normativism of the state. The opportunity presented to learn from and make friends with Vietnamese students at our partner university delights me. I am hopeful that by sharing stories of our experiences, I will be able to learn how our geographic differences are small in comparison to other similarities between our cultures. My limited knowledge of Vietnam as of now will without a doubt be broadened as I have the opportunity to explore more in depth the political, economic, and social norms prevalent within the country. I am very much looking forward to my perspective expanding through this experience.

Cassidy Mattingly, Year 3, BA (Hons) International Relations and Development.

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