Vietnam News

Vietnam’s first openly gay candidate seeks change with parliament run

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Luong The Huy once addressed a session of the UN Human Rights Council and was listed by Forbes as one of the 30 most inspiring people under the age of 30 in Vietnam

As an LGBTQ activist, legal whizz-kid and Vietnam’s first openly gay candidate running for a seat in its rubber-stamp parliament, Luong The Huy is determined to lead long-lasting change for the country’s marginalised communities. 

Huy, 32, is one of just nine independent candidates running for Vietnam’s National Assembly in elections to be held across the country on Sunday and wants to boost the voices of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, who have long felt discrimination.

At the last elections five years ago, more than 100 independent candidates — including dissidents, a taxi driver and a pop star — tried to run, but just a handful made it through the gruelling selection process.

“I want people’s voices to be heard,” Huy told AFP, sitting in his Hanoi office beside a framed poster bearing the slogan “Human rights are for everyone”.

He once addressed a session of the UN Human Rights Council and was listed by Forbes as one of the 30 most inspiring people under the age of 30 in Vietnam.

“If I’m a member of the National Assembly, that path will be shorter, easier and more convenient for the community groups we serve,” he said.

Vietnam is seen as relatively progressive on LGBTQ issues compared with some other countries in Asia.

In schools, misinformation about sexual orientation and gender identity is widespread and some children are taught by both teachers and parents that being gay is a mental illness, according to a Human Rights Watch report published last year.

“There have been (negative) comments about me personally, about how I look and about my sexual orientation.”

Some have messaged him privately, while others have openly declared their support on social media.

“I have truly made a step out to the huge society beyond.” 

They are all competing for one of almost 500 seats in parliament, which is always dominated by members of the ruling Communist Party and rarely seen to fight for the general public.

“I may be the first (openly gay man to run for a seat) but I hope I will not be the only one,” he said.

Agence France Presse – May 21, 2021

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