August 29, 2015
So today is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. Yay.
What caught my eye today is this story, “LGBT Movement Making Inroads in Vietnam”. The story identifies two examples for how the LGBT movement is making inroads:
- “It has entered public debate, been given airtime by Vietnam’s mostly state-controlled media and debated at the National Assembly”
- “In late 2014, Vietnam repealed a law banning same-sex marriage. The new law does not recognise nor protect same-sex couples, but the move is widely seen as an official, and surprising, nod to the LGBT community.”
The first point is, yes, a good thing. The second part demonstrates the ways that the ~lgbt movement~ broadly understood is a white homonationalist thing. Or, because we aren’t talking about the US, homoimperialism. Why, exactly, is gay marriage1 being seen as the ultimate measure for progress? Well, because this is pretty much what the white cis gay movement has declared as its number one priority.
It all seems extra strange when you look at one of the quotes from an activist in Vietnam:
“Only five years ago, I think none of us thought about working with the law, changing the law. We were only discussing (how to address) stigma and discrimination”
Thus, we can see that locally, this law banning same-sex marriage hasn’t been a priority.
The interesting omission in this story is the news I’ve been seeing recently about Vietnam’s progress re: trans rights. From the story, it isn’t much, saying that the government is only considering recognizing trans people, but this has the potential to allow trans people in Vietnam to access trans-related healthcare and update their identity documents. Two things which would have a huge impact on their lives.
However, via the dictates of white homoimperialist standard of lgbt progress, only the repeal of a ban (not legal recognition or protection) is considered progress worth mentioning. And, no, this isn’t a condemnation of the article itself or the person who wrote. This is discussing the ways that a US-based homonationalist narrative becomes global and frames all narratives around LGBT rights and progress.