Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Two LGBT rights organisations in Việt Nam, namely iSEE (Institute for Studies of Society, Economy and Environment) and ICS Centre have sent an open letter to Việt Nam Television complaining about discrimination of LGBT people in an annual comedy that "should not appear on a national channel".
The letter denounced discriminatory depictions of LGBT people in the popular Gặp Nhau Cuối Năm (Meeting at the end of the Year) programme, which was broadcast on lunar New Year’s Eve (February 15).
Huỳnh Minh Thảo, Communications Director of ISC, confirmed the information to Thể Thao & Văn Hóa (Sports & Culture) newspaper.
Established in 2008, ISC is an organisation aiming to develop the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the country.
In the letter, iSEE and ICS mentioned that for years the organisations have worked with the VTV to introduce LGBT people to the public and to introduce talkshows on policies to better protect the rights of LGBT people.
“However, there are ‘mistakes’ in various programmes that iSEE and ICS think should not appear on national television,” the letter says.
“For many years, LGBT community members have been objects to make fun of in Gặp Nhau Cuối Năm (Meeting at the end of the Year) comedy show, which presents distorted information and hurt the community with terrible words,” the letter continues.
In the latest edition of Meeting at the end of the Year, character Bắc Đẩu was implied by other characters as “a human leading a life of not a male or a female”, and “a half woman”.
Bắc Đẩu has long been mocked for the character’s gender.
“As organisations with many years working for the rights of LGBT community, we object to the use of discriminating words publicly to hurt LGBT members due to their body features, especially people with different features than their biological genders. This deepens the society’s discriminations and preconceptions of the community,” the letter continues.
According to the show’s makers, Bắc Đẩu (played by actor Công Lý) was designed as a transgender male mandarin in feudal court, who is quite different from Nam Tào (played by Xuân Bắc), a clever mandarin.
“When society gets more civilised, people should respect one another more,” Hoàng Hường, deputy director of iSEE told Tuổi Trẻ (Youth) newspaper, “LGBT issues have been widely accepted. Society’s awareness has changed. I think VTV as an influential body should be among the first to change its awareness on the matter.”
Meeting at the End of the Year has had 15 editions in 15 years and has been among the most popular comedy shows on television.
The show, produced by the Việt Nam Television Film Centre, mocks burning issues in society in a humorous manner.
“I have looked forward to the show every lunar New Year’s Eve,” said audience Vũ Thanh Bình, “This is an entertaining show that seems to go along with other traditional customs at the lunar New Year.”
“It’s funny and mocks various issues in society during the year,” he said, “But sometimes, details mocking Bắc Đẩu, with different gender, go over the edge and aren’t funny. I think the director should focus on other details rather than making jokes about the character’s gender like that.”
Việt Nam News tried to contact the show’s director Đỗ Thanh Hải but received no response. Việt Nam News also tried to reach actor Công Lý, who played Bắc Đẩu (the discriminated character) and Xuân Bắc, another actor in the show but received no response as well. — VNS