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Vietnam holds first gay pride parade

HANOI — The first gay pride parade in communist Vietnam took place in the capital Hanoi on Sunday with dozens of cyclists displaying balloons and rainbow flags streaming through the city's streets.

Organised by the city's small but growing Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community, the event went ahead peacefully with no attempt by police to stop the colourful convoy of about 100 activists despite their lack of official permission.

"There was no intervention which is a good thing for Vietnam," said one of the organisers, Tam Nguyen.

She said the parade had helped unite the LGBT community and raise awareness among "curious" onlookers, although many had no idea what the rainbow flag -- an international symbol for LGBT groups -- symbolised.

The cyclists attracted no hostility -- and only a little attention -- as they made their way down Hanoi's busy streets.

The parade follows recent gay pride celebrations in Myanmar and Laos, reflecting tentative signs of liberalising social attitudes in parts of Southeast Asia.

Homosexuality remains largely taboo in Vietnam, where Confucian social mores -- with their emphasis on tradition and family -- still dominate.

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