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Gays and lesbians deserve respect, say Catholics

Vietnam Catholic support grows for gays and lesbians

A same-sex ceremony in Ho Chi Minh City in June 2011 A same-sex ceremony in Ho Chi Minh City in June 2011
  • ucanews.com reporter, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Vietnam
  • August 16, 2012
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A reader survey in a Catholic weekly magazine on attitudes towards homosexuality has provoked some strong opinions, both for and against.

However, the majority of respondents said that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people should be given more acceptance and respect.

The opinions expressed by Minh Tuyet, one of the readers who responded to the feature in the Government-sanctioned Cong Giao va Dan Toc - Catholicism and Nation Weekly - were typical of many.

"We should consider gays and lesbians as normal people," she said. "Homosexuality is not an illness and homosexual people do not suffer mental illness or live an immoral life.

"As Catholics, we should respect them as our brothers and sisters and God’s children."

Another reader, Minh Nhat, said he has gay friends and they are open, friendly, dynamic and energetic, but often feel victimized by discrimination.

"They overcome social stigma, earn high qualifications and integrate themselves into society. They deserve sympathy, not separation," he said.

A number of people who defined themselves as gay and Catholic also offered views. "I did not choose my own gender, God chose it for me," said one of them, Nguyen Quy P.

“Church law requires me not to live with same-sex people, but I would feel sinful if I married someone of the opposite sex without love. So I choose to live with a same-sex person according to my true self.”

However, respondents were not unanimous in their support.

Some critics said that the purpose of marriage is procreation, so a marriage that does not intend to produce babies is sinful and unrecognized. Others said same-sex couples were not suitable for bringing up adopted children, as they could become sexually deviant as they grow up.

Whatever peoples' opinions, the signs are that general acceptance of homosexuality is growing.  On August 5, hundreds of people joined Hanoi's first gay pride parade and, in the last two years, an ever-rising number of same-sex marriages have been recorded in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Ca Mau, Ha Tien and Binh Duong.

Perhaps most significantly, in a TV interview last month, Justice Minister Ha Hung Cuong said: "The number of homosexual people in Vietnam has risen to hundreds of thousands. I think, as far as human rights are concerned, it's time for us to look at the reality.

"They live together without registering marriage. They may own property. We have to handle these issues legally."

A new draft of the country's marriage laws, which would legalize same-sex marriages, is expected to be discussed in the National Assembly in May next year.
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