On 17th September 2013, with the support of Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, the Institute for Studies of Society, Economy and Environment (iSEE) organized a workshop to collect contributing ideas that are discussed among members of the Vietnamese LGBT community regarding the amendment to the Law on Marriage and Family of the year 2000.
Participating in the workshop, there were n expert from the Drafting Board of the Ministry of Justice, representatives from UNDP, Care and several international organizations as well as approximately 70 youths of the LGBT community.
In his opening speech, Mr. Le Quang Binh – Director of iSEE emphasized that there was a great improvement in public awareness of LGBT issues in recent years and the image of the LGBT community has been improved. In that context, the workshop “all love is equal” is expected to help facilitating the involvement of LGBT community to the process of drafting the amendment to the Law on Marriage and Family.
Dr. Bui Minh Hong, expert from the Ministry of Justice discussed five points of the amendment that directly affect the LGBT community: marriage and cohabitation which lead to the issues of domestic partnership, adoption and surrogacy; property issues; domestic violence; social protection; marriage with foreigners. According to Dr. Bui Minh Hong, society should recognize the right of LGBT to cohabitate as a couple; however it is also necessary to consider whether LGBT marriage should be legalized at this moment. There should be a road map in legalizing LGBT marriage so that the public opinion in Vietnam could accordingly develop. The questions now are how many steps and how long does it take for LGBT marriage to be legalized. He also shared international experience in legalizing LGBT marriage and stressed that how society can be changed, how policymakers can be influenced also depends on the performance of the LGBT community.
In the discussion section, participants raised many questions related to actual cases that they experienced in their everyday activities such as the problem when they registered for hospital, inheritance and adoption.
Later, participants were divided into groups for further discussion regarding their comments to the drafting law and their proposal for possible change in the content of the drafting law. Generally, participants appreciated that the draft law removed the provision forbidding same-sex marriage. However, they also expressed their disappointment as the draft law did not specifically regulate same-sex marriage which is their wish. It was then proposed that the draft law should legalize the right of cohabitation, adoption and surrogacy, social protection and ultimately the same-sex marriage.
Also at the workshop, a quick survey was conducted and then it revealed that 98% of the participants appreciated that the draft law does not forbid same-sex relationship, 56% felt disappointed with the drafting law, 0% wished to live unregistered (as stipulated in the draft law) and 70% wished to legalize same-sex marriage. Another consultation workshop will be held in Ho Chi Minh City on 20 September, 2013.