Vietnam is considering becoming Asia’s first (and the world’s 12th) country to legalize same-sex marriage, a shocking development in the socially conservative country that would have huge implications for Vietnam’s economy, especially its tourism industry.
Even the mention that gay marriage rights are being considered signals to the world that Vietnam is open and inclusive — although the actions of the government may be out of sync with the general population.
NPR says longtime gay-rights activists are stunned by the government’s proposal to include same-sex couples as it modernizes Vietnam’s laws regarding marriage. Vietnamese police historically have made it difficult for same-sex couples to live in the country where homosexuality until recently was considered a “social evil.”
That started changing before Vietnam’s first publicized gay wedding went viral online in 2010. Now Vietnam says it has hundreds of thousands of gays, plans its first gay pride parade this weekend in Hanoi, and wants to establish a legal framework to help courts handle disputes between same-sex couples living together — addressing such topics as property rights, inheritance and adoption.
Time will tell whether Vietnam’s legislature will formally legalize same-sex marriage after hearing from an inevitably skeptical public, but the mere fact that the topic is on the table puts Vietnam on the map.