HANOI Nov 24 Vietnam lawmakers on Tuesday
passed changes to a civil code that acknowledges transgender
people and gives them rights to change gender in legal
documents, reflecting a major advance in the Communist
government's viewpoint on gender issues.
Under the new law, which will take effect from Jan. 1, 2017,
people who underwent sex change would have "rights and
obligations to register for changes in civil status" and
personal rights associated with their new gender.
"This is an encouraging signal for LGBT (Lesbian, Gay,
Bisexual and Transgender) community in Vietnam", said Nguyen
Thanh Tam, founder of Viet Pride, one of the most popular public
events displaying LGBT community solidarity.
"The change meets the expectations of people undergoing
sex-reassignment surgery and helps create a unified gender
identification scheme," Tam said.
Rights groups have been fighting for years in close-by
Thailand for a change in legislation so that transgender people
can change their sex on travel documents.
Thailand has a prominent LGBT community but the country
remains largely conservative and the law bans changes to gender
categories on national identity papers and prevents gay couples
from taking joint bank loans and medical insurance.
(Reporting by My Pham; Additional reporting by Amy Sawitta
Lefevre in Bangkok; Editing by Mai Nguyen and Sanjeev Miglani)