South Korean military to review gay policy

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The South Korean Defence Ministry has announced plans to revise military laws regarding gay military service recruits.

Defence Minister Yoon Kwang-ung presented guidelines for the welfare of gay soldiers to an Assembly panel, which will adhere to new human rights laws which took effect in the country on April 1.

He said: “We will review the recommendations by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on the protection of sexual minority soldiers in a positive manner, as public calls on the issue are increasing.”

The move answers calls from gay groups demanding the military deal with its policy on homosexuals.

New guidelines will require leaders to attend classes on the prevention of sexual harassment and will ban any personal information of gay soldiers on military documents except basic info cards.

The current laws state that those who have “abnormal” sexual identities such as gays, lesbians and bisexual people, are not allowed to serve in the armed forces.

Gay soldiers have previously had to take blood tests and reveal how many partners they have had sex with.

Under the new laws any sexual discrimination will be punished.

Homosexuality has only gained acceptance in recent years in South Korean society, with its strict Confucian traditions and strong Roman Catholic Church.