Same-sex couples in Vietnam have already begun planning wedding ceremonies after a law came into force on New Year’s Day removing legal prohibition on marriages between people of the same sex.
Vietnam is being hailed as a leader on gay rights in Southeast Asia, Bloomberg reports.
The move sets Vietnam apart from most other countries in the region, where gay-rights movements have either stalled or are facing growing opposition.
The revised law, while not officially recognizing same-sex marriage, places the communist country at the forefront of countries in Asia becoming more accepting of gay people.
The National Assembly’s move is expected to attract more lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender travelers and boost Vietnam’s $9 billion tourism industry.
“This makes Vietnam a leader in Asia,” Jamie Gillen, a researcher of culture geography at National University of Singapore, said by phone.
“Singapore just reaffirmed its ban on homosexual behaviors. Vietnam is trying to pitch itself as a tolerant and safe country.”
Vietnam, which looks to boost an economy that has expanded less than 7 percent annually for seven consecutive years, reduced visa requirements for seven Asian and European countries Jan. 1 to make the country more attractive to overseas tourists.
Foreign visitors to Vietnam are estimated to have increased to 7.9 million last year from 7.6 million in 2013, according to government data.
“It is getting out that Vietnam is a more friendly place” toward gay people, John Goss, director of Utopia Asia, a gay resources website based in Bangkok, said by phone.
“Gays in Vietnam are certainly becoming more open. It has not ruffled any feathers as it might in some other countries in Southeast Asia. It will have a positive effect on tourism.”
Vietnam is already seeing an influx of LGBT travelers from abroad, said Nguyen Anh Tuan, owner of Gay Hanoi Tours, which has seen bookings increase by as much as 50 percent in the past year.
The new law “indicates to everyone that Vietnam is opening up more and welcomes everyone,” he said. “Vietnam is changing very quickly.
There are bigger gay communities and gay events.”
Last Updated on Jan 19, 2016