Vietnamese law to recognize transgender people in 2017

By VnExpress   December 17, 2016 | 07:00 pm GMT+7
Vietnamese law to recognize transgender people in 2017
Demostrators take part in a gay pride parade organized by Vietnam's small but growing Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community. Photo by AFP/Hoang Dinh Nam

The legislation has been hailed as a step in the right direction.

The newly amended Civil Code, which will take effect in January, will for the first time allow people who have undergone gender reassignment to register under the new gender.

Transgender people's personal rights will be protected by the law, which was passed by legislators in late 2015 in a breakthrough vote.

Huynh Minh Thao, an activist for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights, said: “Transgender people will no longer be rejected at school and at work. They will be able to live the life they want.”

Transgender people around the world continue to be the target of attacks and discrimination.

The Trans Murder Monitoring Project, a global initiative, recorded 1,731 murders of transgender people around the world between 2007 and 2014. According to Human Rights Watch, even in developed nations such as the U.S. and Canada, systematic stigma and marginalization remain. Several countries keep enforcing laws that prohibit “posing” as the opposite sex.

Vietnam has been viewed as one of the most progessive countries in Asia on LGBT rights.

But the country itself has been sending mixed messages. For instance, it lifted a ban on same-sex marriage ceremonies in 2015, but the government has yet to offer gay couples real legal recognition.

And under a 2008 government decree, sex reassignment is strictly limited to only those without complete sex organs and those with both male and female sex organs. Procedures are only allowed at a few designated hospitals. It remains to be seen if the new Civil Code will make it easier for transgender people to access health services.

According to media reports last year, officials estimated that there were about 500,000 people nationwide whose assigned genders were incongruous with their gender identity.

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