Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in Vietnam face discrimination in their families, schools, local communities and in public. In one study that surveyed 3,000 homosexual men and interviewed 40 homosexual women, 95 percent reported some form of stigma and discrimination, with 15 percent saying they had been mentally, physically or emotionally abused by family members.
There are a number of factors that explain this discrimination. First, there is a lack of appropriate information and education on sexual diversity. This leads to mistaken beliefs, such as almost half of 854 people surveyed believing that homosexuality can be cured. Second, local authorities have limited understanding of sexual orientation and gender identity and rarely intervene to stop LGBTI-based violence, believing it is right for families to “correct” their children. Third, a legal framework that protects LGBTI communities from violence and discrimination is lacking. Furthermore, many law makers still consider LGBTI discrimination as an urban and youth issue rather than a human rights issue. Finally, LGBTI people themselves have a limited understanding of their rights, coupled with a fear of being stigmatised and discriminated against.
Influencing public perception and the legal framework
Working together with iSEE and ICS, two NGOs active in the LGBTI field, Oxfam focuses on eliminating discrimination against LGBTI people in Vietnam and making sure they enjoy the same rights as other citizens.
Oxfam and our partners aim at long-term influence onthe legal framework and public perceptions. We work to ensure that LGBTI representatives and organisations are better able to participate in the policy-making process and to have a say on laws that protect LGBTI people from discrimination and violence. Secondly, we support LGBTI people to access inclusive and non-discriminatory education, health care and legal aid services that take their needs into account. Finally, we educate the general public to accept and respect different sexual orientations and gender identities.
Establishing networks and a broad support movement
In 2015, Oxfam’s partners set up LGBTI associations in nine cities and provinces across Vietnam. These are organised on a voluntary basis, including members of existing LGBTI groups, and actively work to change public perceptions. Student alliances are also being established in universities. These are run by students themselves and help to mobilise young people’s support for LGBTI rights, both within universities and in public.
Together, these groups provide an opportunity for LGBTI people to collectively discuss how they can best promote and protect their rights within their communities. The groups also contribute to research, campaigning and policy advocacy, thereby amplifying the voice of LGBTI people in the public arena. It is envisaged that the associations and alliances will later form the foundation of a national LGBTI network.
Through research and advocacy, Oxfam and our partners promote better understanding of the needs and rights of LGBTI people among National Assembly members, other policy makers, provincial authorities, service providers and the media. The aim is to contribute to a change in public perception and to create a favourable environment for formulating legal frameworks that respect the rights of LGBTI people.
There is a specific focus on ensuring LGBTI people’s rights to same-sex relationships, parenting, adoption and property rights in the Law on Anti-Stigma and Discrimination, Law on Administration and the Civil Code, and related sub-laws. Through a number of advocacy efforts and consultation events, we provide policy makers with specific recommendations on how these legal frameworks can better protect LGBTI rights.
To support a broad public movement that supports and accepts LGBTI rights, Oxfam, iSEE, and ICS are holding a number of nationwide activities, including public campaigns, celebration of Pride events and the involvement of celebrities, opinion makers and university students as ambassadors and strong public supporters of LGBTI rights.
Project: Empowering LGBTI people in Vietnam to claim their rights to a life free of stigma and discrimination
Location: Nine cities and provinces across Vietnam (Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Thai Nguyen, Hai Phong, Nghe An, Da Nang, Khanh Hoa, Can Tho and Dak Lak) and national-level advocacy
Time frame: 2015-2018
Funding: EuropeAid, Oxfam core funding
 iSEE, Preliminary on-line survey results, Socio-economic characteristics of men who have sex with men in Vietnam, 2009.
 iSEE, Living in a heterosexual society: Stories of 40 women who love women, Relationship with family, 2010.
 iSEE, Attitude of the society toward LGBT, 2011.
 The Institute for Studies of Society, Economy and Environment and the Centre for Research, Innovative Communication and Services on Sexuality.
 Thai Nguyen, Hanoi, Hai Phong, Nghe An, Da Nang, Ho Chi Minh City, Dak Lak, Khanh Hoa and Can Tho.