Hundreds Rally in Vietnam Ahead of Same-Sex-Marriage Debate

Gay couples exchange wedding vows during march in support of marriage equality

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Nguyen Huy Kham / Reuters

A participant holds up a rainbow flag during a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rally in Hanoi on Oct. 27, 2013

An estimated 300 people flocked to downtown Hanoi on Sunday morning to call for equal rights for gay couples before a legislative debate on same-sex marriage kicks off next month.

According to a Voice of America report, two same-sex couples exchanged vows during the rally as hundreds of onlookers displayed rainbow flags and colored balloons in support of equal rights. While public demonstrations are rare in the highly authoritarian communist state, both the Vietnamese public and politicians have granted the LGBT community greater civic space in the past two years.