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Gay activists may be barred from carrying rainbow flag in Tet parade

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Gay activists who fought to be included in a long-running lunar new year’s parade in Little Saigon said their participation is now in doubt because it appears the event’s code of conduct would prevent them for carrying a rainbow flag, an international symbol of gay pride.

Organizers of the Tet parade, which attracts political leaders and dignitaries in the Vietnamese American enclave, initially refused to let members of Viet Rainbow of Orange County march, saying the group did not reflect the event's traditional roots.

But under withering pressure from political leaders, organizers relented and voted to let the group participate in the parade, which is scheduled Feb. 1.

Now members of the gay activist group say the event’s code of conduct could threaten that truce.

Among other things, the code of conduct says: "The organizing community will not accept any form of political campaign which may cause controversy in the community such as banner, uniform, makeup, flag, music, gesture and activities ... besides the purpose to preserve, to promote, and to improve the tradition of national humanitarian culture of the Vietnamese refugees all over the world."

Hieu Nguyen, founder of the local Viet Rainbow chapter, said the group is now trying to find out whether they would be barred from carrying the rainbow flag.

“We must find out if we can share our message of love, respect, family and unity," Nguyen said.

"It remains unclear if we will be able to fully represent both our Vietnamese American and LGBTQ identities," he said. "We have … not been given a direct and clear answer."

While fellow members celebrated the decision to allow them to march in the parade, some now say they're still unsure if they will participate.

"Apart from the rainbow flags, we want to wear our T-shirts. We want to show clearly that we represent not just Viet Rainbow but also parents of Viet Rainbow children and Viet youths who are LGBTs," Nguyen said.

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