Same-sex marriage remains banned in Vietnam, but the government this week announced that couples who hold ceremonies will no longer be fined.
Under the draft decree that would have taken effect this July, homosexual couples that get married would have been fined VND200,000-1 million (US$9.55), twice the current fine introduced in 2000. Gay rights activists lambasted the proposal, dismissing it as a “step back” for the protection of LGBT rights in a Confucian society where homosexuality was once labeled as taboo and even a “social evil.”
After a firestorm of criticism from the media and the public, authorities took note and did away with the fine. And by doing so, they have implicitly acknowledged the “nonsensical” implications of the draft laws, gay-rights activists say. “This is another new step forward that is in line with Vietnam’s current trend [of] protecting the rights of LGBT people,” said Le Quang Binh, a sociologist who runs the iSEE.
The Vietnamese legislature is expected to begin considering a marriage equality bill some time in 2014.