Vietnam’s Gay Movement

May 1 2013 @ 8:07pm

It’s become wildly successful:

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 (an American 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. … 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.

Sample of the show seen above. However, the progress for gays in Vietnam is not seeing corresponding progress for human rights in the country:

[I]t’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.

Previous Dish coverage of gay rights in Vietnam here.