Vietnam youth are still being taught at home and in educational institutions that attraction to the same sex is a “disease.” Traditional conservative beliefs in the country describe homosexuality as a “mental illness” that can be treated and cured as a pro-LGBTQ+ rights legislation continues to be ignored.
According to a recent report published by Human Rights Watch (HRW), discrimination and stigma against gender identity and sexual orientation are the main reasons behind bullying and verbal abuse of LGBTQ+ youth.
Human rights activists have urged the Vietnamese government to act upon its pledges to defend the rights of the LGBTQ+ community in the country.
Graeme Reid of HRW says the country’s government does not reflect the positive changes as a result of Vietnam’s “civil society-led LGBT rights movement” — something that paved the way towards an increase of “social awareness, and acceptance of sexual orientation and gender identity” in recent years.
“One result of the sluggish policy change is that social perceptions in many cases remain mired in outdated and incorrect frameworks – such as the widespread belief that same-sex attraction is a diagnosable mental health condition,” he added.
In Vietnamese public and private schools in both rural and urban regions, it is common for students that identify as LGBTQ+ to experience verbal harassment according to HRW’s report. Harassment is committed by both faculty members and fellow students who use derogatory words against them.
A school counselor interviewed for the report affirmed the report saying “There’s a lot of pressure on kids to be straight. It’s constantly referenced that being attracted to someone of the same sex is something that can, and should be, changed and fixed.”