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Conference discusses legal framework to protect transgender people

The lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer (LGBTQ) community in Vietnam has faced legal barriers as the law currently only recognises two genders, without any acknowledgement of other gender identifications or of same-sex marriage, said Dinh Thi Thu Thuy, head of the Department of Law under the Ministry of Health.

Addressing a conference in Hanoi on September 26, Thuy noted that Vietnam is home to some 300,000-500,000 transgender people. In the face of oppressive social, cultural, and judicial difficulties, they are considered a vulnerable group.

Transgender people often encounter discrimination and rejection from society and their families, and are given fewer opportunities to access employment and healthcare services, she noted. Even when these institutions are available, the experience can often be isolating and traumatic.

Thuy underlined that sexual abuse and harassment against the transgender community is particularly high, with 23 percent of those interviewed admitting that they had been forced to have sex with others, and another 16 percent having suffered from sexual violence. At the same time, 83 percent had experienced humiliation and degradation for being transgender.

Nguyen Kim Dung, manager of a transgender support programme at the Centre for Supporting Community Development, said that currently, transgender surgery procedures are not widely available to the community due to their excessive costs.

The building of the law on transgender confirmation aims to improve living conditions and health of the community by observing their righta to live by their true gender, she said.

The issuance of the law with regulations, in line with the globally progressive trend, is the wish of not only transgender people, but also relevant service providers, as well as the whole community, said Dung, adding that once the legal corridor for transgender people is built, they will have chance a better chance of living equally with access rights to marriage and happiness in a society that recognises them.

At the conference, participants highlighted just some of the many difficulties, obstacles, and barriers facing the transgender community and discrimination against them.

They also agreed on the need to build a law on gender transitioning and confirmation, while discussing recommendations from the transgender community towards the building of a legal corridor and legal recognition.