11 Aug 2022

Vietnam's Health Ministry: Homosexuality is not an illness

The health ministry is ensuring that its staff all understand that queer people are not suffering from a disorder and do not need to be cured.

 

The Ministry of Health has underlined that homosexuality is not a disorder, demanding rectification of medical centres and experts who claim themselves capable of “curing” homosexuality.
The health ministry sent a document on this issue to provincial/municipal health departments, health examination and treatment units under the management of the ministry, and other health authorities, amid reports of forced medical examinations and so-called treatment for members of the LGBT community.
The ministry stressed that “homosexuality is not an illness, and therefore cannot be ‘cured’, need not be ‘cured,’ and there is no way of changing this,” citing the conclusions of the American Psychiatric Association and World Health Organization (WHO).
On May 17, 1990, the WHO decided to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder. “Homosexuality” was removed from the APA Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders list of mental disorders in 1974.
The health ministry urged the leaders of health care units to direct medical examination and treatment facilities under their management to strengthen awareness raising and information dissemination efforts to doctors, medical staff, and people who come to medical examination and treatment facilities so that they can adequately understand homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgenderism – especially the fact that homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgenderism are not disorders.
“An equal, respectful of genders and non-discriminatory and non-stigmatising” approach must be applied when providing medical services to gay, bisexual, and transgender people, the ministry said.
No “forced” or “coerced” intervention or treatment for these people is allowed, the health ministry noted, adding that, if any, there should only be psychological support, which people with knowledge of gender identity perform.
The health ministry requested the strengthening of inspection of medical examination and treatment establishments and practitioners to ensure the implementation and observance of medical principles and practices in accordance with the law.
The document, dated August 3, 2022, sent internally but publicly accessible from local health department websites, was welcomed by the LGBT community and supporters in Việt Nam for the progressive stance.
Lương Thế Huy, a well-known LGBT activist, remarked that the document was a “cool shadow offered by the biggest tree in the centre of the village, that protects the dignity of all people, but just enough to let the light of knowledge reach the dark recesses of bias and prejudgment.”
The UK Embassy in Việt Nam lauded the document as “A step forward for PRIDE efforts in Việt Nam!” in a post on Facebook on Tuesday.
“This is good news and a step forward for efforts to protect and promote the rights of the gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTIQ+) community in Việt Nam. The UK believes in celebrating diversity, respect and love, in whatever form it takes. Together, we can work towards a prosperous, secure and secure society, where all citizens can live freely without fear of prejudice or discrimination,” it said.
The website and the Facebook page of the Government of Việt Nam has also posted the contents of the health ministry’s document, drawing large amount of positive reactions.

 

Vietnam's Ministry of Health has made an announcement that homosexuality is not a disorder, specifically targeting medical centres and experts who claim themselves capable of “curing” homosexuality.

The updated guidance from the health ministry was sent to all provincial and municipal health departments, health examination and treatment units under the management of the ministry, and other health authorities. The updated guidance was issued in response to reports of forced medical examinations and so-called treatment for members of the LGBTQ community.

The ministry stressed that “homosexuality is not an illness, and therefore cannot be ‘cured’, need not be ‘cured,’ and there is no way of changing this,” citing the conclusions of the American Psychiatric Association and World Health Organization.

The health ministry urged the leaders of health care units to direct medical examination and treatment facilities under their management to strengthen awareness raising and information dissemination efforts to doctors, medical staff, and people who come to medical examination and treatment facilities so that they can adequately understand homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgenderism – especially the fact that homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgenderism are not disorders.

“An equal, respectful of genders and non-discriminatory and non-stigmatising” approach must be applied when providing medical services to gay, bisexual, and transgender people, the ministry said.

No “forced” or “coerced” intervention or treatment for these people is allowed, the health ministry noted, adding that, if any, there should only be psychological support, which people with knowledge of gender identity perform.

The health ministry requested the strengthening of inspection of medical examination and treatment establishments and practitioners to ensure the implementation and observance of medical principles and practices in accordance with the law.

What's life like for LGBTQ people in Vietnam?

What's life like for LGBTQ people in Vietnam? Let's take a look at some of the key equality indicators.
Is it legal to be gay?
Same-sex sexual activity has never been addressed in Vietnam’s criminal code.
Is there anti-discrimination legislation in place?
There was an important step forward in 2006 when the government enacted legislation that gave anti-discrimination protection to people living HIV or AIDS.
Is there marriage equality?
There has been some progress on this front in recent years. The country’s constitution used to define marriage as being between a man and a woman, however in 2013 that provision was repealed. In 2015, legislation came into effect that same-sex marriages could be performed, however no legal recognition or protection would follow. These appear to be important stepping stones to full legal recognition of same-sex relationships and marriage equality.
What’s it like for LGBTQ people who live there?
Same-sex relations are generally considered taboo within Vietnamese society, awareness and acceptance has been improving in recent years.
Vietnam’s first gay pride event was held in Hanoi in 2012.Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City both have gay scenes, but gay venues still keep a low profile.Most gay Vietnamese have to hide their sexuality from their families and friends and a lot of stigma remains.
What’s it like for LGBTQ people who visit?
A relatively easy place to visit for gay travellers.
You shouldn’t have any dramas checking into hotels as a same-sex couple.
Be cautious about public displays of affection — culturally it’s not something that Vietnamese people do (gay or straight).

What's life like for LGBTQ people in Vietnam? Let's take a look at some of the key equality indicators.

Is it legal to be gay?

Same-sex sexual activity has never been addressed in Vietnam’s criminal code.

Is there anti-discrimination legislation in place?

There was an important step forward in 2006 when the government enacted legislation that gave anti-discrimination protection to people living HIV or AIDS.

Is there marriage equality?

There has been some progress on this front in recent years. The country’s constitution used to define marriage as being between a man and a woman, however in 2013 that provision was repealed. In 2015, legislation came into effect that same-sex marriages could be performed, however no legal recognition or protection would follow. These appear to be important stepping stones to full legal recognition of same-sex relationships and marriage equality.

What’s it like for LGBTQ people who live there?

Same-sex relations are generally considered taboo within Vietnamese society, awareness and acceptance has been improving in recent years.

Vietnam’s first gay pride event was held in Hanoi in 2012.Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City both have gay scenes, but gay venues still keep a low profile.Most gay Vietnamese have to conceal their sexuality from their families and friends and a lot of stigma remains.