By RIO ROSE RIBAYA
As the original was published on 11 January 2015
Vietnam has lifted a ban on same-sex marriage, putting the communist country at the forefront of promoting gay rights in Southeast Asia.
The new Vietnamese law on marriage, which abolished regulations that previously prohibit marriage between people of the same sex, took effect on New Year’s Day.
In 2013, Vietnam abolished fines imposed on homosexual weddings.
“No other country in Southeast Asia has taken as big a step toward accepting same-sex marriage as Vietnam,” Human Rights Watch deputy director in Asia Phil Robertson said, according to Bloomberg.
The move is seen to attract more lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) travelers, who can boost Vietnam’s US$9 billion tourism industry, according to a report from Bloomberg.
Around 7.9 million foreign tourists visited Vietnam in 2014 after reducing visa requirements for seven Asian and European countries, making the country more attractive to overseas tourists.
Nguyen Anh Tuan, owner of Gay Hanoi Tours, confirmed the influx of LGBT travelers from abroad, saying that bookings have increased as much as 50 percent last year.
“The new law indicates to everyone that Vietnam is opening up more and welcomes everyone. Vietnam is changing very quickly. There are bigger gay communities and gay events,” he said, according to Bloomberg.
But even though LGBT marriage can now take place in the Southeast Asian country, the Vietnamese government still does not recognize members of the third gender or provide them with protection in cases of legal disputes.
Nonetheless, the revised law still places the communist country ahead of other Asian nations like Singapore, which recently reaffirmed its ban on homosexual behaviour. Indonesia and Malaysia also have LGBT restrictions.
Earlier reports indicated that the Philippines is still considering laws to ban marriages between people of the same sex. In Thailand, the military upheaval last year stalled talks on official discussions to address same-sex laws.