Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, Aug 10 (EFE).- The Vietnamese government has called on healthcare workers to put an end to discrimination against the LGBT+ community and has urged practitioners to refrain from labeling homosexuality a disease.
In a document published on August, 3 the health ministry said that “homosexuality cannot be ‘cured’, does not need ‘to be cured’ and cannot be changed,” citing the World Health Organization (WHO) which in 1990 declassified homosexuality as a psychological disorder.
The ministry urged local health administrations to spread the message so that both doctors and patients understand that homosexuality and bisexuality are not disorders and that discrimination must be avoided.
“This is such good news after so many efforts and efforts of many individuals, organizations and working for the LGBTI community,” the Institute for Social, Economic and Environmental Research (ISEE), a non-profit that advocates for the rights of minority groups in Vietnam, said in a statement.
In November 2021, ISEE launched a campaign that was backed by 84,000 signatories urging the government and the WHO in Vietnam to issue a statement to dispel the myth that homosexuality is a disease.
A 2020 Human Rights Watch report revealed that many people in Vietnam still consider homosexuality a disorder and the investigation included accounts of teenagers being harassed by teachers over their sexual orientation.
In 2015 a symbolic reform to decriminalize homosexual weddings paved the way for same-sex marriages, although gay couples still do not enjoy the same rights as heterosexual marriages.
PAVING THE WAY IN SOUTHEAST ASIA
Despite these shortcomings, Vietnam remains at the forefront of gay rights in Southeast Asia, which is home to some of the most repressive laws against the LGTB+ community.
Brunei, a country governed by Sharia (Islam’s legal system), has the region’s harshest laws on the matter. In 2019 it introduced the death penalty for sex between men, although Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah later backtracked amid an international outcry.
Although homosexuality is not criminalized in Indonesia, rising Islamic conservative factions and anti-LGBT sentiments are increasingly pressuring the government to outlaw what critics deem “deviant” homosexual behavior.
Homosexuality in neighboring Malaysia is outlawed and punishable with up to 20 years in prison.
In Thailand, however, lawmakers in June passed several bills that legalizing homosexual marriages, which, if greenlighted, would make the country only the second territory in Asia, after Taiwan, to recognize same-sex unions. EFE