- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 25, 2015

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) - Gay and transgender activists in Vietnam say a new law recognizing their rights will pave the way for gender reassignment surgery in the communist country and reduce discrimination.

Vietnam’s National Assembly on Tuesday unanimously passed the law, which will take effect in 2017 as part of the revised civil code

According to the Standing Committee of the National Assembly, the law was passed to “meet the demands of a part of the society in accordance with international practice and not counter to the national tradition.”

Those who have undergone transgender reassignment will be allowed to register under their new gender with their personal rights protected accordingly, the Thanh Nien newspaper quoted the committee as saying.

Huynh Minh Thao of ICS, an LGBT group, said the law will make it legal for hospitals to perform gender reassignment surgeries. So far, Vietnamese had to travel to neighboring Thailand for such procedures.

“This is a good opportunity for the Vietnamese health services to perform transgender surgeries, which are illegal now,” Thao said.

Last year, the National Assembly passed a revised law on marriage and family, which lifted the ban on same-sex marriages. However, the government still doesn’t recognize them.

There are estimated 270,000 to 450,000 transgender people in Vietnam, which has a population of 90 million people.

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