Cyclists parade through the streets of Hanoi during Pride 2018. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Dat

The Ministry of Health has underlined that homosexuality is not a disorder, demanding rectification of medical centres and experts who claim themselves capable of “curing” homosexuality.

The health ministry sent a document on this issue to provincial/municipal health departments, health examination and treatment units under the management of the ministry, and other health authorities, amid reports of forced medical examinations and so-called treatment for members of the LGBT community.

The ministry stressed that “homosexuality is not an illness, and therefore cannot be ‘cured’, need not be ‘cured,’ and there is no way of changing this,” citing the conclusions of the American Psychiatric Association and World Health Organization (WHO).

On May 17, 1990, the WHO decided to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder. “Homosexuality” was removed from the APA Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders list of mental disorders in 1974.

The health ministry urged the leaders of health care units to direct medical examination and treatment facilities under their management to strengthen awareness raising and information dissemination efforts to doctors, medical staff, and people who come to medical examination and treatment facilities so that they can adequately understand homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgenderism – especially the fact that homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgenderism are not disorders.

“An equal, respectful of genders and non-discriminatory and non-stigmatising” approach must be applied when providing medical services to gay, bisexual, and transgender people, the ministry said.

No “forced” or "coerced" intervention or treatment for these people is allowed, the health ministry noted, adding that, if any, there should only be psychological support, which people with knowledge of gender identity perform.

The health ministry requested the strengthening of inspection of medical examination and treatment establishments and practitioners to ensure the implementation and observance of medical principles and practices in accordance with the law.

The document, dated August 3, 2022, sent internally but publicly accessible from local health department websites, was welcomed by the LGBT community and supporters in Vietnam for the progressive stance.

Luong The Huy, a well-known LGBT activist, remarked that the document was a “cool shadow offered by the biggest tree in the centre of the village, that protects the dignity of all people, but just enough to let the light of knowledge reach the dark recesses of bias and prejudgment.”

The UK Embassy in Vietnam lauded the document as "A step forward for PRIDE efforts in Vietnam!" in a post on Facebook on Tuesday.

"This is good news and a step forward for efforts to protect and promote the rights of the gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTIQ+) community in Vietnam. The UK believes in celebrating diversity, respect and love, in whatever form it takes. Together, we can work towards a prosperous, secure and secure society, where all citizens can live freely without fear of prejudice or discrimination," it said.

The website and the Facebook page of the Government of Vietnam has also posted the contents of the health ministry's document, drawing large amount of positive reactions.

Homosexuality is legal in Vietnam. Same-sex marriage is not criminalised but still not fully in the eye of the law. 

Source: Vietnam News