As a member of the LGBTQ community, it is very normal that you would want to travel with your significant other to see the world together. While places like Thailand are more LGBTQ-friendly, some Asian countries are still quite conservative when it comes to homosexuality. In certain parts of Asia, it is even illegal to be a LGBTQ member. It can be very frightening for gay travelers to venture to these parts. But what about Vietnam?
LGBTQ status in Vietnam
As a Southeast Asian country, Vietnam is surprisingly quite gay-friendly as compared to some of its neighbors. Firstly, Vietnam never had an anti-gay law. It is not illegal to have a same-sex relationship in the country. While it’s true that Vietnam doesn’t offer the same marital rights as straight couples, Vietnamese people, especially in cities like Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi, can still be considered as quite progressive in terms of LGBTQ rights.
In recent times, more gay-friendly establishments, such as pubs, clubs and saunas, are open for both local and foreign queer folks where everyone is free to express themselves freely. LGBTQ members can mingle with the locals at these gay scenes and no one will bat an eye as everyone just wants to have a good time.
That said, some Vietnamese families, especially the elders, still maintain a conservative stance on relationships. Homosexuality or the LGBTQ topics are taboos with these families. There are reports of Vietnamese youth being discriminated by their own family members but as a gay traveler, you won’t face much issue exploring the country.
Nonetheless, there are a few things to take note of as a LGBTQ traveler in Vietnam.
Things to be aware of as a gay traveler if you are unsure if Vietnam gay-friendly.
- In big cities like Saigon and Hanoi, the locals there are slightly more open minded and more acceptive of gay people. However, in small towns or villages, the LGBTQ culture is not as prevalent. As a matter of fact, it can be frowned upon if queer folks do not conform to the Vietnamese gender roles. Thus, when you are travelling on the outskirts of big cities, try to keep an open mind and respect the local culture.
- It goes without saying that public display of affection (even for straight couples) are not favored by many Vietnamese citizens, especially the elders. This is similar to many Asian countries whereby travelers have to be mindful of what is appropriate in the culture. An extra note on this is that display of public affection is strictly prohibited on religious sites such as cathedrals and pagodas.
- When visiting LGBTQ pubs or restaurants, it is very common to stay and mingle with other patrons until late night. Indeed, it is always safer to travel in groups with other LGBTQ members or LGBTQ-supportive friends when going back to the hotel.
While Vietnam still has a long way to go when it comes to being 100% gay-friendly, one of the best things that Vietnam has done in recent years for the gay citizens is that it has a pride parade called Viet Pride. Started in 2012, Viet Pride has been growing strong ever since. This is similar to a gay pride parades around Western countries where LGBTQ members come together to celebrate love and equality. If you managed to encounter Viet Pride, don’t hesitate in joining the fun.