VIETNAM: A Win for LGBT, but a Loss for Activism

YVONNE EPPS WRITES – Vietnam’s LGBT community got a morale boost on International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia May 17, but the big picture of social freedoms in the country is uneven.

Viet Nam News reported that the United Nations praised the country for cutting anti-gay discrimination through local media’s spread of awareness, and proposing laws allowing same-sex marriage.

But even as the LGBT community gains momentum, peaceful activists in other quarters remain at risk. On May 16, two activists, Dinh Nguyen Kha and Nguyen Phuong Uyen, were sentenced to up to 10 years for alleged propaganda against the government. The two, part of a group called the Patriotic Youth, distributed “anti-government” flyers and submitted pictures to the group’s website in what they said was an effort to better their country. The U.S. embassy in Hanoi protested that the ruling violated the pair’s rights to freedom of expression and that the case was part of a “disturbing trend” of Vietnam’s authorities to harshly sentence peaceful activists, according to Voice of America.

The insecurities of the Vietnamese government and the seemingly good intentions of the two activists reveal the disparity between the government’s agenda and a individual rights. In such a polarized spectrum, it’s any one’s guess at the outcome.

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