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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Swedish Support to Vietnam's Sexual Minorities

We would like to recognise this day by joining hands throughout the global community to fight against the stigmatization of lesbian, gay and bisexual and transsexual persons (LGBT). We all know that we need to work together. Today and all other days we celebrate diversity, pluralism and the right to be free and not discriminated. In Vietnam, Sweden is proud to be one of the first countries to support the Vietnamese LGBT community and its movement. We are also proud to contribute with the first non Vietnamese LGBT Ambassador ever in Vietnam! Under the framework of a Sweden-funded project to support the protection of the LGBT rights, the Ambassador of Sweden in Vietnam, Mr Staffan Herrstöm has accepted to be an LGBT Ambassador. He is joined i.a. by the 2008 Miss Vietnam.
In response to the International Day Against Homophobia, the Institute for Studies of Society, Economy and Environment (iSEE) in cooperation with a group of LGBT representatives – Information Connecting and Sharing (ICS) last week in Ho Chi Minh City organised a couple of activities, including the launching of a new website for the parents, friends and families of lesbians and gays. The site: or is the forum for people to speak up and speak out. The website is managed by ICS. The launching of the website was followed by a seminar with presentation of the prejudice, the stigmatisation and social exclusion that LGBTs in Vietnam and their families and friends are facing. Also at this seminar, local journalists were provided with information about the LGBT movements and their work. The media were encouraged to promote a more open society in Vietnam.
Addressing the launching of the website, the Ambassador, Mr Staffan Herrstr̦m highlighted that the challenges of social exclusion, prejudices and stigmatization is something that not only LGBT persons are subject to but many times also their friends and families. He confirmed: "Several legal obstacles were still there. As was prejudice Рpreventing so many people and couples to enjoy the rights to their individuality and to see their love, their relations accepted and respected. Sweden is a country safeguarding and promoting the rights of LGBTs both at home and in the world. Our policy for Global Development is clear on this. The right to decide over your own body, sexuality and reproduction is fundamental for all individuals."
The Embassy of Sweden has signed an agreement to support the project "Protection of LGBT rights through development of LGBT organisation in Vietnam". This is a partner driven cooperation between the Institute for Studies of Society, Economy and Environment – iSEE in Vietnam and the RFSU, the leading organisation in Sweden in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the form of a PDC cooperation grant worth 1.7 million SEK. One of the expected results of this project is to support the legalisation and establishment of "Information Connecting and Sharing" (ICS) as a rights organisation working exclusively with human rights of LGBTs in Vietnam.
The Embassy of Sweden also supports the rights of the lesbians through a cooperation grant with another non-governmental organisation – CSAGA.

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