Vietnam accused of likening LGBTIQ to a ‘disease’

vietnam pride
photo: adobe stock

The Vietnamese government has been accused of teaching young people being gay is a “disease” despite discrimination laws.

Students in Vietnam are being taught same-sex attraction is a “mental illness” that can be treated and cured, Human Rights Watch reports.

Despite legislation protecting LGBTIQ rights, young people say they still face discrimination which sometimes leads to physical violence.

That was the case for one queer interviewee who said his fellow peers had beaten him.

“[The bullying] was mostly verbal but there was one time…I was beat up by five or six guys in eighth grade—just because they didn’t like how I looked,” he said.

HRW reported while physical violence is declining verbal harassment in Vietnamese schools is common.

“Students in different types of schools [said] many students and teachers use derogatory words to refer to LGBT people,” it said.

Reportedly, at times they even couple the slurs with threats.

Vietnamese activists pushing for LGBTIQ protection

Activists in Vietnam have called on the government to fulfil its pledge to protect the rights of LGBTIQ people.

HRW’s Graeme Reid told The Guardian while the community has pushed for LGBTIQ acceptance, the government is behind.

“Largely thanks to a vibrant civil society-led LGBT rights movement, social awareness and acceptance of sexual orientation and gender identity has increased,” he said.

“The government’s actions, however, have so far not officially reflected these changes,

“One result of the sluggish policy change is… social perceptions in many cases remain mired in outdated and incorrect frameworks — such as the widespread belief…same-sex attraction is a… mental health condition.”

Interviewee’s also said parents had threatened violence and expulsion from school. Apparently, they even went as far as a threatening medical treatment for gay children.

Quân, a gay 18-year-old said in school his biology teacher said “being LGBT [is] a disease”.

Tuyêt, 18, said in school his teachers also likened it to sickness.

“During a class to educate us about family and marriage, the teacher said: ‘Homosexuality is an illness and it’s very bad.'”

School staff and teachers among those interviewed

HRW also interviewed teachers and school staff.

One counsellor admitted to the isolation of homosexual students.

“There’s a lot of pressure on kids to be straight,” they said.

“It’s constantly referenced that being attracted to someone of the same sex is something that can, and should be, changed and fixed.”

In 2015 Vietnam voted to allow individuals who had undergone gender reassignment surgery to legally register their new gender.

However, Vietnam still hasn’t passed the bill required to enforce that law, meaning discrimination of LGBTIQ individuals goes largely unchecked.

“We need stronger steps from the government to tackle discrimination and create a safe and inclusive educational environment for our youth,” director Ngo Le Phuong Linh of the ICS Centre, an advocacy rights group said.

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Jade Fitzpatrick

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