Vietnam held its first ever gay pride last year. However, there were a few drawbacks to the event. First, the 2012 Vietnamese pride did not have governmental authorization and second, the organization did not have adequate funding. This year, Viet Pride is trying to change all that.
Nguyen Thanh Tam, the founder of Viet Pride 2013, spoke to 429Magazine on the challenges and hopes for her organization.
Was it a great achievement to receive funding from the civil rights protection in Sweden? And do you hope for more funding from other sources?
Nguyen Thanh Tam: The most difficult part is not really about the content of the program, even though we have to make sure it is good, but the legal registration status of the Viet Pride team.
This year, organizers of Viet Pride 2012 and new volunteers come together to form Viet Pride 2013 committee, without registering ourselves as an NGO. For this lack of registration, we have problems with funders who require their grants to be for registered organizations. We went through thick and thin because of this.
429Magazine: How hopeful are you that the government will grant you this status?
Thanh Tam: We can only hope for the best. This is not groundless hope, I think, because LGBT issues have received positive attention from various authorities including the Justice Minister who called for a non-discriminatory attitude towards LGBT issues on a national stage last year. Viet Pride is moving on that same path to raise awareness about sexuality and social tolerance towards LGBT people.
429Magazine: Why do you think that the government has been reluctant to allow the event?
Thanh Tam: I can’t say whether or not the government has been reluctant to allow the event. The tight schedule of Viet Pride 2012 did not allow us to have a lot of communication but in general we appreciate the cooperation between Viet Pride 2012 and the authorities that lead to the peaceful outcome of the bicycle rally last year.
429Magazine: What is your ultimate goal regarding this year’s event?”¨”¨
Thanh Tam: The Employment Equality Campaign that we are running under Viet Pride 2013 can be considered the very first attempt to mobilize businesses to join the LGBT movement in Vietnam. We expect some cautious attitude of local businesses as this topic is still more or less contentious in Vietnam.
So we will approach many multi-national corporations (MNC) who have been at the frontline of LGBT equality in other countries for this campaign to set a good example. We hope that these MNCs will cooperate with us as they have with other movements outside of Vietnam.
So far we have contacted a few businesses and it is too early to say whether or not our hope will be met or failed. The response from Starbucks that we have got is not positive. But we will keep on trying and hoping.