Viet Nam celebrates Zero Discrimination Day

MSM night at a cafe in Hanoi, featuring a cross-dressing fashion show, karaoke songs, and a demonstration of how to properly use a condom.Viet Nam joins the rest of the world in celebrating Zero Discrimination Day for the first time on 1 March 2014. The day is an opportunity for people everywhere to promote and celebrate everyone’s right to live a full life with dignity—no matter what they look like, where they come from or whom they love.

Working with Nobel Peace Prize Winner and UNAIDS Global Advocate for Zero Discrimination Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, UNAIDS launched the #zerodiscrimination campaign in December 2013, on the occasion of World AIDS Day.

Ending discrimination of all kinds is a key component of UNAIDS’ vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. Yet today, too many people around the world continue to face unequal treatment because of their race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation or identity, disability, gender or age. The symbol for Zero Discrimination is the butterfly, widely recognized as a sign of transformation.

“The AIDS response itself has taught the world tremendous lessons in tolerance and compassion,” UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé said. “We know that both the right to health and the right to dignity belong to everyone. Working together, we can transform ourselves, our communities and our world to reach zero discrimination.”

Discrimination is not only a violation of human rights––it is illegal, immoral, hurtful and dehumanizing. Discrimination can happen anywhere: at work, at school, at home and in the community. Discrimination doesn’t just hurt individuals or groups of people—it hurts everyone.

In Viet Nam, according to a 2011 study conducted by the Viet Nam Network of People Living with HIV, people living with HIV faced considerable stigma and discrimination in many forms. For example, 1 in 10 people living with HIV reported that they have lost a job because of their HIV status, more than 1 in 4 were advised not to have children, and report of verbal insults and physical assault were particularly common among women living with HIV.

“Stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and people at higher risk of HIV infection remains a powerful barrier to HIV service uptake in Viet Nam,” said Dr. Kristan Schoultz, UNAIDS Country Director. “We need to intensify our collective efforts to eliminate social stigma related to HIV, so that Viet Nam can firmly progress towards the global goal of Zero Discrimination.”

There are many things which can be done to counter discrimination and encourage acceptance. Zero Discrimination Day is an opportunity to speak up if something is wrong; raise awareness; support people who have been discriminated against; and promote the benefits of diversity. Zero Discrimination Day is a moment to highlight how everyone can become informed to promote tolerance, compassion and peace.

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