Vietnam is considering drafting a law that would legalize same-sex marriage, making it the first Asian country to break away from the traditional definition of marriage.The Justice Ministry proposed to make amendments to the country's marriage law by including same-sex couples in the definition, The Associated Press reported on Sunday. A new law would also clarify disputes between same-sex couples living together, and address issues such as owning property, inheriting assets and adopting children.
"I think, as far as human rights are concerned, it's time for us to look at the reality," said Justice Minister Ha Hung Cuong last week. "The number of homosexuals has mounted to hundreds of thousands. It's not a small figure. They live together without registering marriage. They may own property. We, of course, have to handle these issues legally."
While it is unknown how long it would take to make such a proposal reality, gay-rights activists are hailing this notion as a major step forward, and are confident that one day soon they will see Vietnam become the first Asian country to embrace same-sex marriage.
"I think everyone is surprised," said Vien Tanjung, an Indonesian gay rights activist. "Even if it's not successful, it's already making history. For me personally, I think it's going to go through."
Despite the news being welcomed by gay activists, Vietnam's communist government has often been criticized for jailing political activists and dissidents who speak out in favor of democracy and religious freedom. Homosexuality itself was once branded a "social evil" along the same lines as drug addiction and prostitution.