A Travel Blog By Rohan
Vietnam is a relatively gay-friendly destination for tourists.
It isn’t quite the glitter-bomb gay utopia like parts of Thailand. But it’s not overtly homophobic either. Basically, an accurate answer to “How Gay-Friendly is Vietnam?” would be, meh.
I spent a whole month backpacking through Vietnam, and I didn’t find much in the way of queer culture.
Yes, Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi do boast a queer culture. But as I’ll discuss later in this article, even that isn’t quite overt.
How Gay-Friendly is Vietnam according to the Law?
On paper, Vietnam seems to be one of the more progressive Southeast Asian countries in terms of gay rights.
Same-sex relationships and sexual encounters aren’t criminalized. There are certain protections afforded to gay folks against discrimination. And they’ve also lifted a ban on same-sex marriages, even though they still don’t legally recognize it.
Furthermore, in recent years, the Viet Pride marches have been gaining a lot of mainstream attention as well. The Hanoi Pride is usually accompanied by an LGBTQI film festival and a bike parade as well. All of this is leading to more mainstream awareness.
Taking all of this into account, Vietnam has been praised as a leader in LGBT rights. However, gay rights activists in the country beg to differ. There’s a wide chasm in gay-rights on paper and gay-rights in practice.
Anyway, the purpose of this article isn’t to delve into the complicated state of gay-rights in the country but to assess how gay-friendly it is for tourists. If you’re interested in finding out more about gay-rights in the country, you can read these excellent articles in Time and Huffington Post.
How Gay-Friendly is Vietnam for Tourists?
Like most countries in Southeast Asia, gay tourists shouldn’t really worry about discrimination.
Well, a 10-year old kid did call me a ‘faggot’ in Bui Vien Backpacker Street, something I found quite shocking. But I don’t think he really even knew what that meant, had probably been mimicking some of the other tourists.
Besides that one odd incident, I found that Vietnam pretty much follows the rule of minding-your-own-business. As such, even when I had gentlemen callers in my hostels while traveling, no one really bat an eye.
Of course, public display of affection would likely draw some glances, but that would be true even for straight couples. That’s more of an indicator of social conservatism in terms of public decorum rather than an indication of homophobia.
If you’d like to meet other gay folks while traveling, you’ll have to pretty much depend on Grindr and other such apps because there aren’t many gay bars and hotels in Vietnam.
In Ho Chi Minh, the only gay club available is Republic. It doesn’t see a lot of action during the weekdays. However, if you go on a Friday night, you can catch a drag show.
The only gay bar in Hanoi is GC Bar, located in the Old Quarter. Again, it’s active only on weekends.