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Vietnam's government sees profit in promoting tolerance

Dannie, 25, left, and Matt, 20, chat at No Stress Cafe, an LGBT-friendly cafe located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City. ( Photo by Ken Kobayashi)

HANOI   As one of the world's few remaining single-party dictatorships, Vietnam might not immediately spring to mind as a bastion of tolerance when it comes to LGBT rights. But after becoming the first Asian country to abolish a ban on same-sex marriage and with further legislation planned safeguarding the rights of transgender citizens, perceptions of the Southeast Asian socialist state are changing. 

     The number of openly gay Vietnamese has increased substantially in recent years and, although hard to estimate, is now thought to number in the millions. But with visitors to Vietnam expected to increase with the launch of the ASEAN Economic Community and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, there may well be more to the party's drive for equality than meets the eye.

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