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Much ado about same-sex I do's

Update: June, 12/2012 - 09:34

 

The internet community in Viet Nam is abuzz with gossip surrounding a same-sex wedding in southern Kien Giang Province's Ha Tien Town.

The male bride, Truong Van Hen, and the bridegroom Nguyen Hoang Bao Quoc held their wedding on May 16. There were hundreds of official guests and thousands of curious onlookers, who had gathered outside the restaurant where the wedding reception was taking place. And there were also scores of protesters, who disrupted traffic in the area.

Truong Van Hac, the proud father of the bride, said that Hen is the fourth of his sons to have exhibited feminine tendencies.

After finishing 11th grade, Hen moved to HCM City to study dance. There, he met his future husband, who was working as a make-up artist. They fell instantly in love and decided to move in together. Some time later, Hen returned to his hometown to ask his parents for permission to marry Quoc.

His parents advised him to celebrate the wedding as if it were a birthday party to avoid attracting unnecessary attention. However, Quoc's parents insisted on a traditional wedding.

While the wedding was taking place, ward leaders ordered Hen to cut short the wedding celebrations so that curious bystanders would disperse and ease the traffic chaos outside the restaurant.

Meanwhile, after the happy couple had tied the knot, the authorities fined the family VND200,000 (US$9.6) for "holding a same-sex wedding ceremony", and ordered the newlyweds to leave the area.

"If the couple return to the locality, they will be fined," one official stated in no uncertain terms. So soon after the celebrations were over, Hen and his husband left for HCM City.

Although homosexuality is not illegal in Viet Nam, the Law on Marriage and Family strictly prohibits people of the same-sex from marrying, which means Hen and Quoc's wedding is not legally recognised.

As for the future, one can only guess. Technically, the young couple are fugitives, social pariahs, ostracised by society. Perhaps love will find a way. Let's hope so.

Whistle blower's woes

Shortly after sitting their high school graduation exam in northern Bac Giang Province, which according to the Ministry of Education and Training must be "Regulation-abiding", a video was uploaded onto the internet that categorically proved that those sitting the examination were anything but upstanding citizens.

The six-minute video showed students cheating by bringing into the examination hall items such as books and electronic appliances that are strictly prohibited. Meanwhile, the examination invigilators turned a blind eye to the students' goings on.

The video, which went viral, was recorded by one of the students sitting the exam.

Following the first video, several other videos were uploaded onto the internet of students cheating in exams at the school.

What is perhaps inexcusable is that the exams were not rescheduled and that those caught cheating were not censured. Even more incredible, the examination papers will still be marked.

However, Minister of Education and Training Pham Vu Luan said those who violated the regulations would be punished.

Meanwhile, the student who uploaded the video is living in fear that he will be punished for sneaking an electronic device into the examination hall, which is strictly prohibited.

A devoted wife

Le Thi Dinh, 50, from southern Bac Lieu Province's Ninh Quoi Commune, has been happily married to Nguyen Van Phuong for about 30 years. They are a well-to-do family with three grown up children.

Which makes Dinh's request to the commune's People's Committee to allow Phuong to bigamously marry his childhood sweetheart Le Thi Xuan seem rather odd.

Dinh says she can't bear to see her husband suffer and wants to see him happy.

The devoted wife says she is willing to endure the unendurable for the sake of her husband's happiness. "I believe they will live together happily forever," she stated in her letter to local officials.

Unfortunately for Phuong, the idea of a menage-a-trois does not appeal to Xuan, who wishes to marry a man 12 years her junior.

Meanwhile, the local authority has stated that it could not consent to bigamy, which is illegal in this country. Local officials went so far as to warn the couple that if they attempted to go ahead with their plans, they would be fined.

Not to be outdone, heartbroken Phuong and his wife have tried to scupper Xuan's matrimonial plans.

Love maybe blind, as is justice, but it seems that the only way forward is for Phuong to divorce his wife and for Xuan not to marry the man of her dreams – hardly a recipe for matrimonial bliss. — VNS

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