More than 100 demonstrators rode bicycles and motorbikes through Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi, on Sunday in the country’s first-ever gay pride parade, spurred by an unexpected government proposal to legally recognize same-sex couples. [AP]
The event was held to raise awareness of Vietnam’s gay and lesbian community. The parade began at Hanoi’s national stadium Sunday morning, and ended about six miles away at Hanoi Botanical Gardens. Tam Nguyen, Vietnam Pride’s main organizer, said in an interview to Gay Star News that, “the most important thing about Pride is that you send out the message to the public that the gay community exists.” Demonstrators trailed rainbow-colored streamers and shouted, “Equal rights for gays and lesbians!” and “We support same-sex marriage!”
Read more and view video footage after the jump…
It was a scene that was unimaginable a few years ago, when Vietnam still labeled homosexuality a “social evil,” alongside drug addiction and prostitution. The country’s gay community was once so underground that few groups or meeting places existed, and it was taboo to even talk about the issue.
Vietnam’s state-controlled media now explores gay issues, and the Justice Ministry recently proposed including same-sex couples in its overhaul of the country’s marriage law – positioning Vietnam to be the first country in Asia to allow same-sex couples to marry or legally register. The new law could provide rights such as owning property, inheriting and adopting children.
Demonstrators said Sunday the proposal is a victory even if the government does not end up legalizing same-sex marriage.