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Gays Challenge Exclusion From Vietnamese Parade

Monday Dec 9, 2013
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Gay rights activists are stepping up pressure on the organizers of a Vietnamese new year parade in Orange County to allow them to march.

Since being excluded from the parade in 2013, Hieu Nguyen formed the group Viet Rainbow for gays and lesbians in the Vietnamese community and to challenge organizers to let them participate in the event that winds through the heart of Southern California’s Little Saigon.

"This is not the Rosa Parks era," Nguyen said. "I’m not sitting at the back of the bus anymore."

Other groups including the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation are now also pressuring parade organizers, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday (http://lat.ms/1cwmkrz). But some leaders in Southern California’s largest Vietnamese immigrant enclave say the community is not ready to welcome gay men and women.

"This issue is too new for the community," Hung P. Nguyen, a member of one of the Vietnamese community groups that co-sponsored the 2013 parade, told the newspaper.

The Westminster City Council will consider Wednesday whether to grant a permit to the Vietnamese American Federation of Southern California for the event expected to draw thousands in February.

Messages left for the Federation’s contact, Neil Nguyen, were not immediately returned.

Christian Bettenhausen, Westminster’s assistant city attorney, told The Associated Press that the city council should evaluate public safety and health issues when granting a permit but much like a demonstration, a parade is considered free speech.

"They really don’t have discretion here to deny a permit based on the fact they like or dislike the message that will be conveyed," he said.

Copyright Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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