First Homosexual Club in Vietnam opened
Why did you establish the club?
Vietnamese society has erroneous views, condemning, and discriminating against homosexuals. I’ve met with many homosexual people and listened to their stories and I think that it’s time for us to change our views. Homosexuals need sympathy and support from the community, which is the reason Hai Dang Club was established.
In Vietnam, homosexuality is a sensitive issue. Did you face difficulties setting up the club?
Many! We had to wait a long time for approval. Some people who knew of our plan protested. But the most difficult thing was homosexual people, who are afraid about disclosing the truth about themselves to their families. Some worry that they will be letting their parents down, and believe it would be better to live in the dark for their whole lives rather than revealing their sexuality. We want to help young people to be brave enough to tell their families.
How are you attracting patrons to Hai Dang Club?
We had to spend several months going to places where homosexuals gather in Hanoi to mobilize them. Initially they refused and did not want to show up. Finally some accepted our invitation. Hai Dang now has 25 members, most young people.
What is the meaning of Hai Dang?
Hai Dang means lighthouse. The Hai Dang Club wants to be a lighthouse to light the way for homosexual people to surmount the storm of HIV/AIDS.
How does the club benefit members?
Coming to the club, young people will have a chance to meet, exchange, and learn information about health, social, cultural, and sporting issues and take part in other group activities. In addition, club members also spread knowledge of HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, and charity activities through club activities. Joining the club, many feel their life is more meaningful.
There are many homosexual people in HCM City and some big cities. Do you plan to expand the system of clubs for them?
This is a project funded by the International Family Health Organisation. If we have money, we will expand. We firstly plan to design a website for homosexual people so those who cannot directly join the club can exchange information via the website. In addition, individuals who need consultancy can contact us via phone (7366653).
This is a club for gay men, not women. Will a club for lesbians follow?
I cannot answer at present but we are ready to help lesbians through free, confidential services of consulting, HIV testing, examination, and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases. Members of Hai Dang Club are students, artists, and volunteers. We want to reach others who are difficult to approach, such as workers and office employees, and I also hope our members will be added to the National HIV/AIDS Control Programme.
Website launched for gay men to reduce spread of HIV
The Family Health International (FHI) launched a website for men who have sex with men (MSM) in an effort to mitigate rates of HIV transmission and sexual transmitted diseases among MSM and their partners, as well as the wider community in Hanoi on Dec. 5.
The website also provides information and consultancy services regarding health, gender and sex and how they relate to HIV prevention.
The http://nam-man.vn also expects to call for greater involvement by MSM in activities to prevent the spread of HIV and to reduce discrimination against gay men.
Together with http://adamzone.vn, which was launched previously, the new website hopes to help MSM have enough confidence to access HIV prevention and health care services.
The two websites form part of an Internet-based intervention programme on sexual health and HIV/AIDS prevention among MSM, funded by the US Agency of International Development and the FHI.
“Fool for Love” to come out in USA
“De Mai Tinh” (Fool for Love), the most recognizable comedy from Vietnam this year will be screened in five cities in the US starting on September 10.
International experts work with Vietnamese film crews
Wave Releasing will distribute the movie in cities that have large Vietnamese communities, including Orange County and San Jose in California, Houston and Dallas in Texas, Atlanta, Georgia, and Washington, D.C.
Introduced in Vietnam on April 23, “Fool for Love” opened the first summer film season in Vietnam and was one of the most financially successful films in Vietnam.
“Fool for Love” has garnered high praise from critics and audience alike. The story follows a captivating tale of humor, trial, and love between a hotel clerk Dung (Dustin Nguyen) and a beautiful lounge singer Mai (Kathy Uyen). His love causes him to leave his job to chase after her affections, only to find her involved with a wealthy real-estate mogul. Mai becomes torn between Dung and her professional career, which depends on her relationship with the wealthy real-estate mogul.
Comedy ensues as the penniless clerk, in order to finance his love, is forced to shack up with a very rich but very gay businessman looking for a male companion. Now Dung and Mai are faced with a true test of faith as he continues his pursuit of Mai, while Mai struggles to choose between true love or a stable future with the real estate mogul. Dung and Mai’s journey is filled with humor and unexpected twists, causing the audience to wonder, ‘Will their love prevail?’
Transsexual’s marriage opens social discussion
Singer Cat Tuyen, who had a sex change, created a huge media buzz by marrying another artist on Monday at the Quoc Thanh Restaurant in HCM City.
There’s no business like show business: Cat Tuyen and her groom at their wedding on Monday.
The wedding was significant for the entertainment, gay and transsexual and law communities.
Originally a man, Cat Tuyen had dreams of being a bride, and went to Thailand to have a sex change operation.
Tuyen met her boyfriend Chinh Nhan, a cai luong (reformed drama) artist, two years ago and they decided to tie the knot soon after that. However, the extreme social prejudice against transsexuals and their families’ objections dissuaded them from legalizing their relationship.
The criticism quieted down when Tuyen successfully performed as a woman in her first liveshow last August.
The couple decided to try again to get their families to agree to a traditional wedding.
"They are very well known personalities, and it was very brave of them to make it public," said a gay man in HCM City.
"This is considered a normal wedding in many countries, but is seen as an event in Vietnam. It will pave the way for other actions from the gay community." he said.
"I can’t wait to wear my wedding dress. The life expectancy for people who have sex change operations is very short," Tuyen said, "I have to act quickly to make my dream come true because I’m more than 30 now and my health and memory will slow down soon."
Nhan said the wedding is not a traditional affair, but an opportunity to educate the public about transsexual people.
"We are normal people. Why can’t we have normal weddings like every other couple," said Nhan.
Though now a woman, Tuyen still does not have the legal status of one. There are no laws on the books about trans-sexuality.
"City officials [in My Tho City] have explained that my sex is still certified as male in the residency registration books so they can’t give approval for a man, to marry a man." Tuyen said.
"We do not deny she is a female. However, there is no basis for us to approve her case," said an official of the My Tho City People’s Committee in the southern province of Tien Giang, the seat of the bride’s residency registration.
Tuyen may be able to petition the Ministry of Justice to change her sex designation, according to Truong Thi Hoa, a lawyer from the HCM City Bar.
Gay man demands sex at knife point, killed
A Vietnamese man has been arrested for stabbing his gay friend to death early Sunday morning in Ward 15, Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Binh district after the latter took out a knife and allegedly proceeded to rape him.
Locals told police they heard a loud shout from a barber shop on Pham Van Bach Street.
They looked through a crack in the door and found 35-year old Tran Dinh Hoa, the owner of the barber shop, in a pool of blood.
Police besieged the shop and arrested Truong Van Manh, 22, who was fleeing the scene.
Manh confessed he has known the victim for a half a month and that the barber often touched his “sensitive” parts.
He added he paid little attention to it as he considered such behavior a joke.
On Saturday night, Hoa invited Manh to sleep at his shop after they attended a wedding ceremony.
Hoa continued to touch him, but Manh turned him down.
Manh claimed that Hoa took out a knife to force him to have sex that night.
During the quarrel, Manh disarmed Hoa’s knife and with it, stabbed him to death.
The case is under investigation.
City records 50,700 HIV/AIDS cases in 2 decades
More than 50,700 cases of HIV/AIDS have been reported in Ho Chi Minh City since 1990 when Vietnam’s first case was detected here, the Committee for AIDS Prevention said Saturday.
Of them, 8,262 have died.
The agency forecasts 33,000 infections in the next five years.
Sex workers’ clients make up the highest risk group, higher than drug users, prostitutes, and gay people, the committee said.
Nationwide, around 300,000 people have so far tested positive for HIV.
Insider says lesbian couple loves at first sight
The lesbian couple who publicly married in Hanoi one week ago and whose wedding was widely posted on the internet fell in love first sight, said a friend who added they only knew each other for one month.
T.A.T, the couple’s friend and photographer at the wedding said the two girls, both 19 years old, are students at the Raffles International College in Hanoi where the two met just last month.
But Quang Minh, who assumed the role of a ‘groom’ on December 14, is also a part-time project director for a communication company in the capital.
According to T.A.T, theirs is a very romantic love story. Chemistry instantly sparked between a gentle, feminine Thuy Linh wearing long hair dropping over her shoulder and a strong-willed, short-haired Quang Minh.
T.A.T told Doi Song Phap Luat he was very surprised at their decision and that he had never heard of a same sex marriage in Vietnam before.
But the insider believes in the marriage, saying Quang Minh has many years working in the business environment and therefore is mature enough despite his young age.
However, he admitted Thuy Linh was quite naïve.
The couple has announced they will seek further education abroad after they finish their studies at Raffles.
According to a superintendent at Raffles, the two are studying at the university and that they did organize a wedding.
The superintendent said Raffles was an international school familiar with western lifestyles but many were shocked at their decision.
“This is a personal matter for them so the school will not interfere”.
According to Doi Song Phap Luat, theirs is not the first same sex marriage in Vietnam.
About 10 years ago, two men pronounced marriage in the southern Mekong Delta. They are currently separated.
However, Thuy Linh and Quang Minh’s marriage is the first to be distributed on the internet. After the clip was posted on YouTube Thursday, it attracted tens of thousands of hits.
In the 11-minute-long clip, the two exchanged vows in a cozy restaurant in the presence of their friends, mostly young people.
The ‘groom’’s mother was the only parent to attend the wedding.
D.L, a lesbian guest at the wedding, said that people attending the ceremony was supportive and sympathetic and wished them a lifelong happiness.
Lesbians suffer more prejudice
According to a Hanoi conference early this year, lesbians suffer much more prejudice than gays in Vietnam.
Homosexuals in the Southeast Asian country is said to suffer discrimination not only from their communities but also at home.
The Center for Studies and Applied Science in Gender, Family, Women and Adolescents reported that most parents in Hanoi considered homosexuality an illness and a bad issue.
Currently, Vietnamese laws ban same sex marriages.
What readers have to say:
We are not criminals. We were born that way. Do not think of us as those wanting to jump on the gay bandwagon. No one wants to follow a fashion that society scorns. Same sex marriages only shock those who have never known of the concept of same sex and oblivious of the feelings of such people”, says a member of a gay forum.
Hoang Van: No one has the right to judge others on their quest for happiness. No one but us knows how to create happiness for ourselves. My only worry is that they are both very young. Will their happiness last long?
“I respect them because they dare to express their true nature when the public is not very sympathetic at the moment. They have done what other gays dare not. I wish them a lifetime of happiness”, said My Duyen, from Ho Chi Minh City’s Phu Nhuan district.
Van Dung, member of a Vietnamese gay forum, believes the two are truly in love because without true love, they could not have publicly married.
Phuong: Some developed countries have legalized same sex marriages. Why are we Vietnamese so prejudiced? What have they done? They only want to live true to themselves.
But there are some disagreements.
According to Dam Thi Xuan Uyen, there is something abnormal about the wedding.
Maybe they only want to get famous, she told Tuoi Tre.
24-year-old My Nhung who admits to being a lesbian also agrees, saying the wedding is meant to attract attention.
Tran Quoc Cuong: Their marriage has denied the basic origins of humans, rejected the history of many generations. Gays can have temporary happiness but their future will be dark.
First Gay Cafe in Danang
Nhip Dap (Rhythm), opened by a public health employee, gathers the community of men who have sex with men and also educated them.
In Danang, it remains difficult for the community of men who have sex with men (MSM) to gain social acceptance.
Understanding their predicament, Nguyen The Trung, an employee at the local Public Health Consultation Center, has opened a cafe, Nhip Dap, which works on Saturdays and Sundays.
“It was because I wanted to give a place for the MSM community to hang out," Trung said.
Through shows that Trung and his colleagues put on, the cafe has also become a place for the MSM community to learn about safe sex and HIV-AIDS.
Trung has also opened a dance club to train unemployed gay people so that they can find a job.
Nhip Dap cafe opens every Saturday and Sunday
The 25-square-meter Nhip Dap, with its yellow lights and nice tables, is a “warm coat” that allows people to be themselves.
Its patrons are willing to listen and help each other.
A student said: “I miss people so much when I cannot go to Nhip Dap. It is a second home for me.”
This is a place where people from the MSM community can share their happiness and sadness and can learn about HIV
Vo Thanh Trung, vice president of the Danang AIDS Prevention Center, said: “The coffee shop is a trusted place for gay people and helps prevent the spread of HIV-AIDS in the MSM community.”
Hanoi Watch over male prostitution
The city government has permitted the Centre for STDs/HIV/AIDS Prevention Centre to implement a project that focuses on homosexual men in Hanoi.
Entitled “Gay in Hanoi – highly risky behavior and barrier to HIV prevention,” the project will be carried out with the modest funding of $15,000, provided by the AIDS Research Foundation. It is expected that the project will research homosexual behavior and its relationship to the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Within seven months, this project will study the needs and barriers to HIV/AIDS prevention among male prostitutes in Hanoi to find out which measures can reduce the spread of HIV.
There are no statistics on the number of male prostitutes in Hanoi. According to the latest report of the Hanoi Department of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs, by the end of March 2009 the city had 1975 female prostitutes and 710 suspected prostitutes.
The department’s director Nguyen Dinh Duc said that prostitution is now hidden by services like female karaoke staff, massage centres and inns.
The number of male prostitutes may be less than their female counterparts and they operate less visibly, making the situation is more complicated and the risk of unsafe sex very high.
“The education of male prostitutes is not low generally and their income is moderately fair. Most come to Hanoi from other provinces and their time here is often not very long (less than 5 years),” noted Dr. Le Minh Giang from the Hanoi Medical University’s HIV/AIDS Research Centre.
This expert remarked that money is not the only motivation urging gays to become male prostitutes. Many get involved as a way to find sexual partners.
As these men are very vulnerable, Giang noted, one of the best way to assist male prostitutes is to see them as normal people with their own lives, not as disease-transmitting subjects.
Homosexuality in contemporary Art
Readers are debating about books on homosexuality written from various angles. Is there a wave of homosexual literature and how should we see that topic?
Some novels about gay men include A World without Women by Bui Anh Tan, about lesbians Les – Embracing Arms Not of Men also by Bui Anh Tan; short stories include I’m Les from a short story collection named Keng’s Variant and Quynh’s Toy Animals in Rain of the Next Generation by Tran Thuy Mai, Parallel by Vu Dinh Giang, Love Stories of Lesbians and Gays by Vietnamese-American researcher Nguyen Tho Sinh, etc.
The latest work is an autobiography entitled “Bong” and another one is coming out very soon.
Only writer Bui Anh Tan has issued a set of books on homosexuality, published by the Young Publishing House, including A World without Women, Les – Embracing Arms Not of Men, Have and Have Not, A.C Kinsey’s Method, and Alone (a collection of short stories).
However, Tan commented: “Works about homosexuality published recently are not sufficient to create a literature wave about homosexuals. There are many books about homosexuality, which expose homosexuals themselves and the fondness of this topic by writers. I wish that it was not a way for writers to polish themselves and attract readers.”
Bui Anh Tan is worthy to be seen as a rare writer who writes well about this sensitive topic, though some short stories of his are not special.
Writer Vu Dinh Giang said: “The topic of homosexuals has become popular today so it is wrong for someone to think that I write about it to stir up curiosity. I wrote about this theme in some short stories like Mondrian House and Dendrophis Tree. Ultimately, literature is the one target I strive for, not the topic.”
Recently, some books about homosexuals have been “emphasised” by writers, characters and publishers on blogs and the media before they are published, for example “Bong” and “The City Not Alone”.
Bong (written by Hoang Nguyen – Doan Trang, Literature Publishing House) has 339 pages and is advertised as a special autobiography because “on each page of it, readers will witness a world of formidable and obsessive love between… men”.
Nguyen Duc Binh, Director of the HCM City Literature and Arts Publishing House, said: “I read Bui Anh Tan’s World without Women. Recently some newspapers have introduced Bong but I’ve not read it yet. I think one of the functions of literature is reflecting the human condition. Homosexuals are also humans, but with more special fates. So it is natural for them to be mentioned in literature works.”
It is very normal to see more books about homosexuals; society’s changing attitude in recent years has offered gay and lesbian people more opportunities to talk about their lives.
“In Vietnam, anything new is seen as a phenomenon. This topic has been developed in literature and movies in the world for a very long time. Let’s look at the topic of homosexuality like any topic in modern society. There is no luxurious or humble topic. What is important is how the topic is written about,” Binh added.
Gays on Catwalk
Coming out party on Valentine’s Day will increase Vietnamese society’s tolerance, homosexuals hope
Gays and transgenders at a beauty contest in Ho Chi Minh City. The gay community is looking for more tolerance.
Nguyen Van Trung, 35, is as excited as a teenager going to his or her first party.
But the excitement is tinged with some nervous bravado, because Trung’s coming out party seeks to increase public tolerance toward the gay community in Vietnam.
A group of 100 gay activists is planning to raise awareness and visibility by wearing pink T-shirts proclaiming, "I am gay." They will walk together on the sidewalks in downtown Ho Chi Minh City, probably on the upcoming Valentine’s Day, Trung said.
“This will be the first time such an a
Gender-bending the rules
Gay beauty pageants are gaining momentum without official recognition.
Pre-game jitters: Contestants prepare backstage at Miss Angel, one of many gay beauty contests becoming increasingly popular in Ho Chi Minh City.
Like many young people, Lam Thi wanted nothing more than to walk the stage at a glamorous beauty contest.
But the options are limited for gay men such as Thi, who identifies herself as a woman.
So when Thi heard about Miss Angel, a beauty contest strictly for gay men, she did everything she could to compete, and win.
But it was more than self-interest that inspired her, she also wanted to bring greater acceptance to the gay community.
“Through such contests, I hope society will learn to keep an open mind about gays,” she said.
But Miss Angel and other beauty pageants for homosexuals are not licensed by Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism’s Department of Performing Arts, which has to approve all live events in Vietnam.
Current regulations state that transsexuals cannot take part in beauty contests. The law, however, doesn’t mention anything about pageants for homosexuals. But in Vietnam, it is commonly accepted that if something is not mentioned in the law, it is forbidden.
Still, several gay pageants every year are attracting scores of contestants who say they just want to be considered normal. Though prize winnings are usually low, around US$100-300, most gay beauty-queen hopefuls spend an average of $600 getting dolled up for the events, according to Minh Quan, director of Miss Angel.
‘Just for fun’
Miss Angel was first held in 2005 by The Gioi Thu Ba (The Third World) Ltd. and gay club Bau Troi Xanh (Blue Sky). Contestants, aged 16-24, compete in three rounds including a female costume competition and a session in which they must demonstrate their knowledge about HIV/AIDS and safe sex.
The judges panel consist of make-up artists, psychologists and members of the Ho Chi Minh City’s AIDS Prevention Committee.
Minh Quan, 29-year-old director of The Gioi Thu Ba Ltd. and moderator of thegioithu3. com, which boasts the largest number of members of all gay-themed websites in Vietnam, said he held Vietnam’s first gay beauty contest at a hotel in HCMC “just for fun.”
Quan, who has come out publicly about his homosexuality, said a group of about 20 gay men competed in the first competition.
But as support grew through his website, which had 8,000 members by 2006, he decided to organize larger, more highly-publicized competitions.
“Later contests drew a lot of media attention with headlines like ‘Homosexuals vie for beauty queen title,’” Quan said.
“We received a lot of support from the public in the beginning. Many thought it was just a normal event. But, of course, there was strong opposition as well.”
This year’s pageant was held in June and attracted hundreds of contestants from HCMC and other provinces.
An audience member who wished to remain anonymous said most of the contestants were transvestites but that some transsexuals had also participated in the event.
But it was 20-year-old Thi’s dream that came true at the 4th Miss Angel.
In an interview with Thanh Nien after being crowned the queen of the contest, the native of the southwestern province of Tay Ninh, said she had had breast augmentation surgery and would undergo more complicated sex-related surgery in the near future.
Like beauty queens in any other pageant, the 4th Miss Angel said she would use her position to carry out charity work.
“I will launch an awareness campaign calling on homosexuals to have safe sex to prevent AIDS.”
The first Prince Style Contest for lesbians was held in August by thegioikhac.com, becoming the first public contest for lesbians in HCMC, open to anyone from southern provinces aged 17-28.
The moderator of “thegioikhac” (another world), who goes by the name Ivy, said Vietnamese lesbians tended to hide their sexuality more than gay men in Vietnam.
Organizers were worried that turnout would be low, said Ivy. But more than enough contestants competed, with twelve making it to the final round.
Ivy said that the best thing about Prince Style and other similar pageants, such as Men Style and Mr. Ikon – held by gay youth website taoxanh.net – was that they brought a sense of pride and dignity to the lesbian community, with contestants unafraid to express themselves and showcase their unique features.
Most of the Prince Style contestants said they took part in the event as a way to support the gay community, in which they felt comfortable to be themselves and live their lives however they chose.
Many said they often had to hide their true selves in their everyday lives for fear of retribution from their friends, family, coworkers and society in general.
After the first contest for lesbians made its debut in HCMC, Dang Linh, moderator of lesbian website bangaivn.net, said she hoped to organize contests in the north next year.
Minh Quan is now also training contestants for the next Miss Angel Contest as well as Prince Style. Quan said his biggest wish was that gay pageants would one day be officially licensed so they can expand and attract larger sponsorships.
Quan, who added that he also wanted to organize a contest for transsexuals next year, said that he longed for the day that the gay community would have the full acceptance of the rest of Vietnamese society.
14 percent of gay men are HIV positive
Wed, May 18, 2011,9:56 AM (GMT+0700)
Over 14 percent of gay men in Vietnam are HIV positive, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Health at a conference yesterday.
According to another study released at the conference on how to reduce discrimination against gay men held by the Vietnam Administration of HIV/AIDS Control and the United States Agency for International Development, because of discrimination from society and family, gay men can hardly access safe sex practice programs and this increases HIV infection among them.
Ultimatum for gay remark in airline violence case
Thu, April 28, 2011,8:00 PM (GMT+0700)
The lawyer of a passenger allegedly assaulted by Vietnam Airlines’ security staff met with representatives from the aviation firm Thursday afternoon but failed to reach any decision.
Lawyer Tran Thu Nam who had a working session with Vietnam Airlines (VNA) for 30 minutes told Tuoi Tre he and two officers from VNA did not reach any agreement.
Nam represents Le Minh Khuong, Vietnam's taekwondo coach who was allegedly beaten by the airlines.
Nam said he had made certain requests at the meeting but the VNA representatives only wrote them down and did not give any answer.
Nam said both he and VNA are awaiting decisions from The Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam.
Earlier, VnMedia reported that the aviation agency has concluded investigation and identified who was right and wrong.
However, deputy minister of transport cum director of the aviation Agency Pham Quy Tieu told Tuoi Tre today that the agency has not reached any decision.
Meanwhile, VnExpress reported that VNA could have mistaken Khuong for someone else and should have instead detained another passenger who did in fact cause some disturbance on the plane.
It turns out that apart from Khuong, there was another economy-class passenger at seat 37J wanting to take off.
According to report by chief attendant Trinh Thi Hoa, this passenger did shout and had some threatening actions endangering security.
Lawyer Nam said it is possible security staff were called in to subdue this passenger, not Khuong, but they made the mistake.
Both Nam and Khuong know this passenger but refused to reveal his/her name at this stage.
VnExpress reported on Thursday that if nothing changes, the aviation agency will release a temporary conclusion before April 30.
Ultimatum for “shut up you bloody gay” remark
Meanwhile, singer Quang Ha who was on the plane at the time and who stood up as a witness to defend Khuong has issued an ultimatum to Eileen Tan, another passenger who defended Vietnam Airlines.
Ha announced that he would take Eileen Tan to court if she does not officially apologize for her humiliating remark before May 1.
When Ha tried to prevent Eileen Tan from taking photos of the scene on the plane, she got angry and shouted at him: “Shut up you bloody gay!”
Eileen Tan who hails from Singapore, announced later that singer Ha stood up for Khuong only to “polish his own name.”
It was found out that the foul-mouthed Eileen Tan is director of Viking Travel and a second-level ticket agent for Vietnam Airlines. Many readers commented that she protected Vietnam Airlines only out of her business relation with the state-owned company.
Eileen Tan blamed Khuong for all the trouble. She said Khuong shouted and refused to return to his seat in economy class when the aircraft prepared to take off.
She added that Khuong occupied her seat (business-class seat 1C) and refused to give it up. Khuong had bought an economy class ticket.
On the contrary, Ha told the press that security staff used an electric baton to hit Khuong.
“I saw Khuong being pushed to the ground. His arms were held. One security officer used an electric baton to hit him on the chest”.
Khuong, being a martial arts expert, did not fight back, Ha continued.
“He only shouted ‘father, help me’”
Besides Ha, movie director and actor Tran Luc also agreed to be witness to defend Khuong.
Luc told Tuoi Tre that Khuong did not cause trouble or shout.
“He only wanted to explain but was pushed by security staff and pressed to the ground”
“He did not cause disturbance or have violent acts. When I asked an airline employee why a passenger was treated like that, I got the reply that Khuong wanted to take off and take back the ticket counterfoil”, Luc said.
In its press release, VNA said due to bad weather, flight VN1169 did not arrive at HCMC’s Tan Son Nhat airport at 11.45 p.m. as scheduled.
Instead, the flight was diverted to Da Nang airport and arrived at 1:30 a.m., where chief pilot ordered passengers to stay onboard due to the short stop.
Khuong asked to get off, but a Vietnam airlines representative from the airport refused his demand, saying that the plane would take off soon.
Forty minutes later when the plane was on the runway to take off, Khuong shouted, asking the ground staff to return his boarding pass and he refused to get back to his seat and yelled at flight attendants.
This prompted the airlines to call in security, said VNA.
Safe sex, doctors tell gay men
Mon, March 28, 2011,11:35 PM (GMT+0700)
Doctors have called on men who have sex with men to brave discrimination and meet peer educators and counsellors to learn about safe sex and reduce the risk of spreading HIV.
At a workshop held last Friday on encouraging and increasing intervention to check HIV transmission among such men by the HCM City AIDS Prevention Committee, Le Truong Giang, deputy head of the municipal Department of Health, said the incidence of HIV among MSM has increased rapidly in Viet Nam, including HCM City, in recent years.
He warned it could increase even further if timely preventive measures were not taken.
Nguyen Thi Hue of the AIDS Prevention Committee, quoted a report by the Committee as saying there were nearly 20,000 MSM aged between 15 and 49 in HCM City, but said the actual number could be 60,000.
A study in 2009 found that 16.4 per cent of them tested positive for HIV, she said, mainly getting it through unprotected sex.
A study by the Family Health International in Viet Nam found that only 24 per cent of MSM used a condom during sex.
The risk of HIV spreading from this group is high and could threaten the wider community's safety because a large number of MSM could also have sex with women, Hue said.
Besides, some of them are sex workers, meaning there was a high risk of HIV spreading to other men, she said.
The number of MSM with knowledge of protection against transmission remained low though the city has had an interventional programme for MSM to prevent HIV/AIDS spread since 2009, she said.
This was because only a small number of MSM were involved in the programme, with only 9,164 out of the 20,000 meeting with the programme's peer educators, she said.
A mere 755 have availed the voluntary counselling and testing service, she added.
Dr Hang Thi Xuan Lan, manager of a project for HIV prevention among male sex workers by the Centre for Life, said discrimination against MSM was high.
As a result, many remained in the closet, making it difficult for the project's peer educators to reach them, she said.