The UN in Viet Nam organizes the Diversity Day to celebrate gender diversity and inclusiveness with students and the LGBTI+ community
In December, a number of global campaigns are organized to promote inclusiveness and the right to be free from discrimination and violence. These include Human Rights Day (10 December), the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (25 November to 10 December) and International Volunteer Day (5 December). In line with the focus on inclusiveness and non-discrimination of these global campaigns, the United Nations in Viet Nam organized an event with support from the global UN Free and Equal Campaign aimed at promoting equal rights and fair treatment of LGBTI+ people.
Everyone, regardless of their Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) or any other status, is born free and equal in dignity and rights. To highlight this, the UN in Viet Nam created Diversity Day, as a platform to celebrate SOGIE diversity and inclusiveness.
“People continue to face stigma and discrimination because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. This affects their access to many important social services including, significantly, education. Although more data is still needed, research shows, for example, that in schools LGBT students in Viet Nam face higher levels of gender-based violence than their peers and that education institutions are not safe for them. […] Today we celebrate that despite our differences, we are all free and equal – we are all the same in ways such as freedom and equality which really matter”, said Mr Kamal Malhotra, UN Resident Coordinator in Viet Nam, at the opening.
Visitors cheered for teams in the Diversity Ball tournament (a ball game adapted from soccer) and learned about LGBTI+ from informative booths organized by local organizations. On top of this they enjoyed performances from Đỗ Thị Ngọc Châm and Bui Thị Tuyết Mai, former National Vietnamese female soccer players who were also the Diversity Ball referees, a Diversity Choir with members including LGBTI+ people, persons with disabilities, women, and children, a drag show by Miz GG, and photo exhibitions on gender, HIV and gender diversity.
Diversity Day provided an open and safe space for everyone to challenge existing gender norms in society using sport as a means to promote equality. In Diversity Ball, at least 50% of the players on each team had to identify as women and players in the field had to hold hands during the match.
Throughout the day, it was highlighted that regardless of whatever differences may divide us, we are all united as free and equal human beings. This is also eloquently expressed in the Vietnamese proverb, “Bầu ơi thương lấy bí cùng, tuy rằng khác giống nhưng chung một dàn (Despite being different species, winter melons and gourds are grown on the same structure and in the same place, so they should love each other)”.