A 2,000 person parade in Ho Chi Minh City, workshops and outdoor performances celebrated the beginning of a new wave of tolerance for the LGBT community in Vietnam. Canada was happy to support one of the largest LGBT festivities in Vietnam, VietPride 2015.
Although the LGBT community continues to face challenges being accepted by society, organizers remarked this year’s festivities had the highest attendance yet. This year’s message, “Spread My Wings,” was particularly dedicated to Vietnam’s transgender people, who face risks and difficulties defining themselves even within the LGBT community.
Canada supported the workshop component of VietPride 2015 and was represented by HOCHI’s Consul General Richard Bale and Senior Trade Commissioner Marcel Laneville, who attended the workshops and parade activities.
VietPride 2015 was organized by the ICS Center, an LGBT rights advocacy organization in Vietnam along with the invaluable support of the Canadian Embassy in Vietnam and other supporting organizations.
Local LGBT communities in 24 provinces and major cities across Vietnam coordinated dynamic activities such as bike rallies, with the participation of thousands of members of the Vietnamese LGBT community. Workshops had various topics both chosen by the ICS center and also the LGBT community.
“It’s time for us to realize that a workplace that respects diversity is a good workplace for everyone, and a society good for LGBT people is good for everybody,” ICS director Tran Khac Tung said at the workshop ‘Work with Pride.’
The event attracted unprecedented media attention. Celebrities and representatives from foreign embassies also lent support, showing that “progressive and democratic countries are standing by your side.”
The festivities culminated in a rainbow march from the Labour Cultural Palace to the Nguyen Hue Pedestrian Street in Ho Chi Minh City. 2,000 peaceful participants cheerfully marched a route of over 2.5 km, often greeted by supporters and curious pedestrians.
“It was the biggest and strongest parade. I could never imagine in my life it could happen in Vietnam", said Ms. Nguyen Hai Yen, Project Manager of ICS.
Awareness and support for the LGBT community in Vietnam have risen steadily in recent years, although the community remains far from full equality and recognition. Canada hopes to continue to collaborate with local organizations such as the ICS Center and Viet Pride to sustain the movement for equality amongst LGBT individuals in Vietnam.