20140803-635426450097963745wHanoi: About 400 members of the LGBT community, their friends, colleagues and family took part in a bicycle ride around Hanoi in what has become a signature event of the Vietnam Gay Pride Parade in the capital.

Both local and international media reported the Aug 3 event which has been a regular annual since the first gay pride parade in Hanoi in 2012 when the Vietnam’s Justice Ministry suggested including same-sex couples in its overhaul of the Marriage and Family Law.

However, legal rights for cohabiting same-sex couples are yet to be legally accepted even though the government has scrapped fines for same-sex wedding parties.

Hanoi city streets were awash with rainbow flags as the mainly young crowd wearing matching t-shirts and carrying rainbow flags cycled and danced through the capital urging an end to discrimination against the LGBT community, media reported.

The last two years have seen the LGBT community become more confident and increasingly visible, with high profile activities such as flash mob performances music and photography shows.

Nonetheless, same-sex relations largely remain a social taboo in Vietnam.

Le Kieu Oanh, a 20 year-old art student who took part in the parade told AFP that he was there for the rights of gay people. “I want them to be treated fairly like everyone else,” he said.

Nguyen Trong Dung, one of the parade organizers said gay people need to be “accepted by their families” before wider society ends its prejudice.

“If they are recognized by their own families, they have a high chance of integrating into society,” he said.

The Hanoi parade was the culmination of national VietPride 2014 celebrations held in 17 cities and provinces from July 18 to August 3 which included a variety of film screenings, talk shows, and music performances.

Vietnam, which has a population of 90 million, has an estimated 1.65 million LGBT people.

Source: Various media outlets