First LGBTIQ community-led summit in Viet Nam calls for united grass root movement

One by one, colorful stickers were taped by the participants to indicate the locations of their LGBTIQ community-based organizations across the rainbow-liked Viet Nam map, soon forming a harmonized and variegated picture in Stronger Together Summit.

Over 70 representatives of LGBTIQ communities-based organizations (CBOs) around Viet Nam discussed the ways to advance the LGBTI’s community’s heath, equity and sustainability in the three-day summit led by Lighthouse, a LGBTIQ and youth-led community-based organization, with support from UNAIDS and other development partners. A summit statement has been developed collectively based on the consensus reached in the summit regarding (1) equality and equity, (2) health and (3) sustainability and the role of LGBTIQ Civil Society Organizations. Side by side, they raised their voices on how the community can be stronger together.

“If the whole community grows, our organization will grow, and vice versa.” Mr. Lu Trong Tin, project manager from GLink, a community-led social enterprise providing HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) health services for men having sex with men (MSM) community.

Tin described the struggles of establishing new clinics of HIV services for MSM community in Hanoi. The staff and comers of the clinic have faced the unacceptance and stigma from landlords and neighborhoods. “Being at a unique position that is both the forefront of HIV health services and the center of LGBTIQ key population community, we have to work together to stripe off the entrenched labelling and to provide friendly health services for the hard-to-reach groups. Other CBOs can provide referral HIV services to our clinics and Glink serves as service provider. We are all acting as interlocking, complementary parts.”

“This summit enhanced my understanding towards updated HIV and other health information. I wish we have more resources to spread the HIV knowledge and let our children get better health protection.”, said Ms. Nguyen Mong, a member from PFLAG Viet Nam, an organization for the families, relatives and friends of LGBTIQ community, and also a mother of the son from gay community.

What prompted Ms. Nguyen Mong actively in connecting the civil society is the necessity of updating information of community resources, health knowledge and society trends for other parents and members in PFLAG. Mong explained that information exchange and mutual support is crucial to avoid the heartbreaks and splits in the families with LGBTIQ children out of misunderstandings. “Being a mother who loves her child, I have been gone through all those tears and pain. Now I want to be others’ companions to go through this uneasy journey.”

“Needs of trans-man and transgender people in relationship with gay men are easily being neglected and placed in a general MSM category.  I strongly believe in ‘there is nothing for us, without us’. Sharing this vision among the community can increase our visibility.” Mr. Chu Thanh Ha, the founder of , a policy advocacy organization for transgender people.

Ha reaffirmed that policy advocacy for recognition of transgender people is a vehicle leading to equal health access and the process is a long-term battle. “Sustainable development of LGBTIQ organizations can be difficult. I see hope in this summit, I have learnt that LGBTIQ communities-led organizations is unnecessarily be a charity, but also can be private companies or social enterprises to continue the works for the community.”

The three-day summit covered vivid discussion content, including the milestones in the LGBTIQ movement in Viet Nam in the past 15 years, the sustainable development model of the communities, existing challenges and future collaboration opportunities.

All agreed that the communities have the most at stake in pursuing health-for-all and ending the HIV epidemic. Their aspiration is clear and loud: the LGBTIQ community in Viet Nam stands stronger together to forge win-win relationship.

Communities’ needs and commitments are convened clearly in the summit statement. Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS needs of the community are highlighted in the statement with suggestions for future actions, including to scale up the coverage of prevention programs such as community testing, self-testing, PrEP to more provinces and to provide evidence-based interventions for hard-to-reach groups etc. The complete summit statement can be accessed here.

Follow-up activities of summit have been rolled out continuously. A wider community consultation has been carried out to finalize the summit statement as widely recognized “Community Statement”. LGBTIQ CBOs, including the Lighthouse, iSEE, ICS, It’s T-time, already have committed to work towards the common priorities identified as at the Summit in their 2020 workplan. The summit statement will serve as strong advocacy tool and the blueprints for LGBTIQ community-based organizations’ future actions in Viet Nam.


Green One UN House, 304 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh, Ha Noi, Viet Nam