Opening speech at Viet Nam National LGBT Community Dialogue

Jun 5, 2013

Speaker: UNDP Country Director, Ms. Louise Chamberlain
Date      : Wednesday, 5 June 2013, 8:15am
Event    : Viet Nam National LGBT Community Dialogue
Venue   : Flower Garden Hotel

Good morning and a warm welcome to all !

Thank you for joining us today for the Viet Nam National LGBT Community Dialogue today,  as a part of a joint initiative of UNDP and USAID to review the legal and social environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons and civil society in Asia. Viet Nam is the second country to host the National Community Dialogue after Thailand.

I would like to start by quoting the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, who said earlier this year:  “We should all speak out when someone is arrested and imprisoned because of who they love, or how they look. This is one of the great, neglected human rights challenges of our time. We must right these wrongs.” End of quote.

Today, we are here to listen to representatives of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans-gender communities who will share their concerns, and to speak about their needs. We will also have a chance to review existing initiatives aiming to advance the fulfillment of human rights of LGBT persons.  

I would like to note the effort of the Government of Viet Nam to address the struggles of their LGBT citizens and their parents, family and friends, notably the much welcome openness to discuss issues such as the removal of gender-specific terms in the Constitution Amendment, and the ongoing discussions to legally recognize co-habitation and relationships of two persons of the same sex. Such recognition would be a significant cornerstone in eliminating discrimination and achieving equality for all. UNDP is currently working with the Ministry of Justice to support legislation in this important area.

Through our discussion today, we will hear about the  challenging situation that Vietnamese lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons are in, their work in striving for equality; and we will discuss how we can partner with the Viet Nam LBGT movement as well as other stakeholders towards the full recognition of diversity in sexual orientation. The findings from today’s discussion will feed into a report on the situation of LGBT persons in Viet Nam, as well as into a publication on Being LBGT in Asia.

We appreciate also the role of USAID in supporting advocacy and increasing access to legal and social services of LBGT people. We look forward to also further advance critical partnerships within Viet Nam in realizing a society where everyone can be who they are, and love who they love, without fear or facing stigma.

Let me end my brief statement by again quoting the UN Secretary-General: “My promise to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members of the human family is this; I’m with you. “

Ladies and gentlemen, from the UN’s and UNDP’s side, we are committed to taking this cause forward, and we look very much forward to hear your words of experience, wisdom, and guidance today.

I wish you all a successful and productive meeting.

Xin cam on.