Gay & Lesbian Travellers

Vietnam is a relatively hassle-free place for gay, lesbian and transgender travellers. There are no official laws prohibiting same-sex relationships, or same-sex sexual acts in Vietnam. There's very little in the way of harassment. VietPride (www.facebook.com/vietpride.vn) marches have been held in Hanoi and HCMC since 2012. The Hanoi event now takes place over several days in September and includes film screenings, talks, parties and a bike rally.

Vietnam has more progressive governmental policies than many of its Asian neighbours. In January 2015, a Law on Marriage and Family was passed that officially removes a ban on same-sex marriages (though these partnerships have not yet been legally recognised). Transgender people were granted the right in November 2015 to legally undergo sex reassignment surgery and have their gender recognised.

Hanoi and especially HCMC both have gay scenes. That said, gay venues still keep a low profile and most gay Vietnamese choose to hide their sexuality from their families.

Gay travellers shouldn’t expect any problems in Vietnam. Checking into hotels as a same-sex couple is perfectly acceptable, though be aware that Vietnamese people don't react well to passionate public displays of affection, by heterosexual or nonheterosexual couples.

Interestingly, the former US Ambassador to Vietnam, Ted Osius, is openly gay and he often attended official government events with his husband and their children.

Utopia (www.utopia-asia.com) has useful gay travel information and contacts in Vietnam. The gay dating app Grindr is popular in Vietnam.