Sunday marked the first Gay Pride Parade to grace the streets of Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi. The China Post reports that about 100 LGBT activists paraded through the streets on bicycles and by foot, causing no major disruptions or inciting any intervention by the police. They carried colorful banners and balloons while spreading a hopeful message for LGBT rights.
Last month, Vietnamese Justice Minister Ha Hung Cuong hinted that there may be possible changes to current laws regarding same-sex marriage in the country. Currently, same-sex unions are completely forbidden in Vietnam. After the Justice Minister’s words, organizers may have gotten the boost they needed to take their small group out on the streets and push for more visibility and inclusion. Vietnam has traditionally been a difficult country for the LGBT community. Most people feel uncomfortable displaying their sexuality in a country where being gay can be aligned with caricatures and taboos.
Officials are normally very strict about the types of demonstrations that can be held in the public spaces of Vietnam, according to the China Post. This particular Gay Pride event, although small, did not have official sanction to proceed through the streets of the city, but was strategically planned along a route that would not disrupt certain unsettled areas of Hanoi.
Gay Pride celebrations have been blossoming around the world in recent weeks. As Queerty points out, another march took place this month in Nepal:
Marching as part of this month’s Gaijatra festival on Friday, paradegoers’ demands included marriage equality, anti-discrimination laws and the recognition of a third gender in government-issued certificates.
“The rally gives us an opportunity to seek the support of the public and be more visible in the society. There are more and more people coming out in the open and this rally gives them a chance,” said Sunil Babu Pant, a former member of parliament now working for the rights of sexual minorities with the Blue Diamond Society.
The Nepalese demonstration included around 2,500 demonstrators with colorful costumes, music, floats and people walking by with bright umbrellas and banners. Smiling participants brought their children to the peaceful Pride parade. Queerty notes that Nepal finally agreed to recognize a third gender back in 2008, although that has not guaranteed equal employment opportunities or social inclusion for those with gender identities outside of the two-gender mold.
Many Asian countries present a very specific set of LGBT frustrations and struggles, including a long-term prejudice against gay and lesbian blood donors in China. The expansive Asian country also saw demonstrations against the exclusion of a term for “gay” in an authoritative new dictionary this year.
Hundreds of demonstrators in European countries have also been pushing for LGBT rights. The tiny nation of the Faroe Islands, with a population of 50,000 citizens, also held a Pride demonstration at the end of July. It was one of the first Pride events to take place in nearly five years in the islands and boasted a whopping 5,000 participants.
Photo Credit: Jordy 91