Vietnam’s rainbow community is celebrating a significant step forward in LGBTQ+ rights after the nation’s health ministry finally declared that being LGBTQ+ is “not an illness.”
The move by the nation’s ministry of health was announced in an official document stating that being LGBTQ+ is “entirely not an illness” and “cannot be ‘cured’ nor need[s] to be ‘cured’ and cannot be converted in any way.”
The document also urged medical professionals to treat LGBTQ+ people with the same dignity and respect they give to other patients and strongly condemns any so-called ‘conversion therapy’ practices.
Speaking with Al Jazeera, Phong Vuong – the manager at the Institute for Studies of Society, Economy, and Environment (iSEE), Vuong, described the announcement as “a dream.”
“It is something that we never thought would have happened, let alone coming from the most trusted source for medical information in Vietnam … I think the impact on queer youth will be very, very evident,” Vuong explained.
Vuong added that the move sent a strong message that the country is taking a critical step forward in LGBTQ+ rights while affirming that being LGBTQ+ “is not something you can fix”.
“When a queer child gets taken to a medical facility … if they know about this, it can be used to defend themselves,” Vuong added.
Following the announcement, many LGBTQ+ rights groups have seized the opportunity to highlight the need for legalising same-sex marriage in Vietnam.
An “I Agree” Campaign has also been launched, with over 250,000 signatures being obtained already since it was started on the 10th of August 2022.