Men Who have Sex with Men in Viet Nam Speak Out on International Day Against Homophobia

The Government of Viet Nam, together with the United Nations and USAID/PEPFAR, support efforts to fight stigma, discrimination and violence against MSM  

Ha Noi, 17 May 2011 – Representatives of Viet Nam’s community of men who have sex with men joined hands today with government, civil society and international organizations to raise awareness on the stigma, discrimination and violence faced by homosexual and transgender people in Viet Nam, in commemoration of the International Day Against Homophobia.  Every day in Viet Nam, stigma, discrimination and violence threaten the basic constitutional rights of men who have sex with men (MSM), including access to the information, products and services that they need for their well-being. There is a special concern regarding MSM’s access to HIV services, as HIV prevalence among MSM was 14% in 2009. 

“The doctor told me to my face that I should not have sex with men, and I was very upset even though there were only two of us in the room,” recalled a MSM from Hanoi. “I left the clinic without looking at anyone else and never returned.” 

Discrimination against men who have sex with men is driving them away from health services, which in turn helps sexually transmitted infections and HIV to spread, according to a study by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), FHI and the Institute for Studies of Society, Economy and Environment (ISEE). 

Stigma and discrimination also fuel violence towards MSM. A study on gender-based violence and MSM by the Center for Creative Initiatives in Health and Population (CCIHP) and the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) found that violence comes not only from strangers, but also from acquaintances in the community and from within their own families. This issue, however, is rarely addressed in programmes on gender-based violence and family violence.

Viet Nam is taking action to address the situation.

The recently developed Guidelines for Comprehensive HIV Interventions for MSM provide a framework to address stigma and discrimination on a broad scale. A toolkit guiding the understanding and reducing stigma related to MSM and HIV developed by UNAIDS and the Institute for Social Development Studies (ISDS) is being used by MSM community groups across the country. In addition, networks of MSM are growing increasingly stronger and MSM are now more confident to speak out against stigma & discrimination.

“Members of the National MSM Technical Working Group have increased from seven provinces in 2009 to nine provinces in 2010 and are continuing to grow. If we do not speak out and take action ourselves to protect our rights, it will be very difficult to effectively fight the stigma and discrimination against MSM,” said Mr. Phan Huy Hien, Chair of the National MSM Technical Working Group.   

But broader efforts are needed to ensure the rights of MSM are fully respected and the number of new HIV infections among MSM is drastically reduced. 

“The United Nations has made human rights and gender equality a priority for the next five years,” said Eamonn Murphy, UNAIDS Country Director and Chair of the Joint UN Team on HIV in Viet Nam. “We need collective and stronger actions to create enabling social and legal environments to ensure the respect of human rights of men who have sex with men and transgender people in Viet Nam.”

UN Communications Office in Viet Nam | Nguyen Thi Bich Hue | tel. 3822 4383 Ext.105 |


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