Last year saw Vietnam feature at the FIFA Women’s World Cup for the first time in the national team’s history.
The first weekend of 2024 has given the players further cause for celebration, with many in attendance at the same-sex wedding of one of their teammates — defender Tran Thi Thu — in Ho Chi Minh City.
Thu’s happy day with partner Nguyen Thi Thuong is also a notable moment for LGBTQ representation in sports in the Southeast Asian nation.
VN Express International reports: “This marks the first time a female Vietnamese football player has publicly married a partner of the same sex.”
Thu played the full 90 minutes in all three of Vietnam’s games at the World Cup. The team struggled on its tournament debut, losing every match without scoring as they finished bottom of Group E.
Same-sex marriages were previously banned under Vietnamese law, but that changed in 2015 to a less-draconian stipulation that the country does not “recognize marriage between persons of the same sex.”
In practice, it means that symbolic same-sex weddings are permitted there, and LGBTQ activists in Vietnam hope that in time the country might follow Taiwan and Nepal, which so far are the only other Asian nations to have legalized equal marriage.
Thu is described by Vietnamese news website VTC as being a “pillar” of the defense for the national team, and the stats appear to back that up.
The official World Cup website had the 32-year-old top of the table for ‘blocks made per 90 minutes’.
On the wedding, VTC reports the player as saying on their personal social media page: “I would like to send my sincere thanks to relatives on both sides of the family, friends near and far, and colleagues who took some time to come celebrate and give congratulations.
“Best wishes to us. The wedding was a great success.”
By the end of the World Cup in August, Outsports knew of at least 96 publicly out LGBTQ players in the tournament, with 22 of the 32 competing nations represented.
Vietnam was one of those remaining 10, and there were no out Vietnamese athletes on the Outsports list from the Tokyo Olympics either.
Athlete-turned-activist Amazin LeThi, who was born in Vietnam and raised in Australia, has long advocated on behalf of Asian LGBTQ people in sports, particularly those from Southeast Asia.
LeThi has been on an inspirational journey and has undertaken a range of ambassadorial roles in recent years to encourage more stories to be shared.
Now LGBTQ sports fans in the country of her birth — which has a population of around 100 million — can point to at least one active elite out Vietnamese sports star as well in Tran Thi Thu.