US ambassador to Vietnam advocating for LGBT rights in Southeast Asia

HANOI, Vietnam (KGO) -- The U.S. ambassador to Vietnam is advocating for gay rights abroad and he has a personal interest in the matter.

Ted Osius is gay. He is married to his partner and they're raising two children together.

"I'm white, my husband's black and our kids are brown. So, we represent, I think, one of the things that's really great about America," said Osius, who has become very visible leaders of the LGBT movement in the diplomatic corps and sweeping across Southeast Asia. In Vietnam, a ban on same-sex marriages was lifted shortly after they arrived nearly two years ago.

"It's about representing equality and it's about representing human rights and it's very much an official agenda. The agenda of this administration is to keep pressing the envelope on human rights and that includes the right to LGBT persons. Because my family and I are visible, we do more by example than through just talking. We show that you can be a same sex couple and raise children, and do it successful," said Clayton Bond, Osius' husband.

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"People tell us that us being here is a powerful example of you know what equality can look like. And we've been pleased to see some other couples locally same sex couples get married now they are not criminalized for doing that, although those relationships are not legally recognized, at least they're not people aren't criminalized," said Osius.

"So anyone who thinks that the ambassador's sexuality is a distraction, they should come here and see how it's been embraced by people," said Nguyen Qui Duc, a former NPR and BBC correspondent, who now owns a cafe on the same block as ambassador's residence and is a close observer of the Vietnamese reaction to the ambassador's diplomatic and personal style.

"It's a non-issue as long as he does his work and carries himself with dignity with his spouse together in places. It's an incredible appeal to the people here," he said.

"The fact that I show respect for the Vietnamese language and culture and history, the Vietnamese people, the fact that I show that respect, that I clearly enjoy being here, I think that has helped, has helped my mission, has made me more effective. I really love being here. I feel like I won the lottery, because I really care about this country to be able to come here and do this job at this time in history, is a really rare privilege. I feel lucky every day," said Osius.

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