This year, Lighthouse Social Enterprise brought together nearly 140 LGBTIQ leaders, activists, their parents and allies, UN families, Embassies, NGOs, private sectors, healthcare providers, psychologists and government agencies from across Việt Nam to the 2nd Annual LGBTIQ National Summit: Stronger Together. During the three days of the summit, activists took a look at the joint issues and statements established since summit 2019, recognized changes with community contributions to each issue and identified prioritized issues to solve in the future.
On Day 1, with the theme of Equity and Equality, participants shared about COVID’s impact on LGBTIQ people, the experiences to response, recovery and resilience in the context of COVID, and how this can expand to other crises in the future. This contributed to a LGBTIQ country context analysis report, exchanged the experience in using media, art, film and culture to strengthen LGBTIQ advocacy, discussed the solutions to have safer homes for LGBTIQ, to recognize, document and handle rights violations to LGBTIQ people, especially LGBTIQ children, to deal with gender and sexual violences among the community. Participants also were taught how to design and run an advocacy campaign, explored the existing laws/policies/strategies that affect to LGBTIQ community, and discussed Marriage equality and Transgender Law. At the end of the day, all participants joined together to identify the prioritized issues, developed the recommendations and action plans to ensure Equal rights and Equity for LGBTIQ in Việt Nam.
On Day 2, we focused on the theme Holistic Health for all LGBTIQ people. All participants worked together to build a Community health House with Physical health, Mental health and Social health to determine the current gaps. “Healthcare is a choice, proactively protecting your health” is the message throughout the campaign “My health, my choice” by Lighthouse and UNAIDS Vietnam that was spread out in the summit. In the breakout sessions, for the first time, the issues of LGBTIQ minorities including female body LGBTIQ, elder LGBTIQ, ethnic minority LGBTIQ, transgender people, LGBTIQ sex work and drug use were discussed. Health for transgender people, mental health, and social health of LGBTIQ are unanswered issues, have also been discussed, analyzed and brainstormed. Stigma in the healthcare setting is still very severe as a key barrier that limits the community’s access to appropriate and quality services, many initiatives to improve the quality of health care services. communities such as Community advisory board, Community scored card, LGBTIQ friendly model deployed by US.CDC and their partners have been shared to continue replicating in many provinces in the coming time. The growing situation of HIV infection and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) remains a big and challenging question for the whole community, its newest data and innovations were presented. Finally, it is necessary to prioritize community health issues, what actions to take, which strategies need to be applied have been answered by the community that are the direction of the coming activities to ensure Holistic Health for LGBTIQ.
On Day 3, the theme of sustainable development is always a big question for LGBTIQ organizations, programs and movements. The participants have been aware about the intensive aspects of sustainability, learned about examples of resource mobilization from the community, society, and business to create resources, moreover the community has been in dialogue with the government and businesses on domestic resource mobilization, ways of cooperation and expectations of each party. During this dialogue, a representative of the social media network TikTok made a commitment to support capacity building and promote LGBTIQ advocacy movements in Vietnam on this social network platform. Sustainable development is a component of the adaptation of community organizations, flexibility of programs and cooperation, solidarity of the whole community with a common vision for the LGBTIQ movement as the conference’s name: Stronger Together.
The last part of the summit included a miniature community forum titled LGBTIQ Vietnam Community Voice was held with the participation of many NGOs, Development partners, Government departments, Embassies, and the United Nation, Businesses and Media. The community had the opportunity to raise voices on urgent issues, proactively propose solutions and suggested cooperation with all parties to work together towards a future of Health, Equity and Sustainable development for the Vietnamese LGBTIQ community.
It is because of this summit that LGBTIQ communities across Viet nam were connected and motivated to make change for better future. Not only this, they have learned from many new things from each others, brainstormed the solutions and action plan beyond the summit that based on partnership and mutual support. A LGBTIQ activist has said in summit reflection:
“This is a big milestone of the LGBTIQ community, it gives me more energy, faith and hope in the road I’m going and keep me believe in a brighter future for LGBTIQ community. It’s time to raise our own voices together, act together and strong together”