Korean gays ask for international support

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) has received an urgent request from gay activists in South Korea.

They want to mobilise international support for the restoration of sexual orientation as a protected category in the proposed anti-discrimination legislation (ADL) recently drafted by the Ministry of Justice.

The proposed new law was designed to bolster South Korea’s pre-existing National Human Rights Commission Act (which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and other criteria) by requiring the government to develop plans to eradicate discrimination.

But the current legislation excludes sexual orientation as a protected category.

The ADL vote will be finalised next week before being sent to the extremely conservative National Assembly (Korean Parliament) where 60 percent of the members belong to the Christian Right.

A coalition of 40 LGBT groups in South Korea, called the Alliance Against Homophobia and Discrimination Against Sexual Minorities, is asking for a coordinated international response to stop the most recent draft of the anti-discrimination legislation from going before the National Assembly.

The Alliance is demanding that sexual orientation is restored as a protected category.

Ms. Hahn Chae-Yoon, president of the Alliance Against Homophobia and Discrimination Against Sexual Minorities, said:

“The struggle has the potential to be the Stonewall of Korea.

“There has been no previous instance of this many LGBT people coming together in anger and solidarity against a common enemy and this is a very important struggle, which is why we need international support.

“What we need from our international brothers and sisters is to exert any kind of pressure on the Blue House (the seat of government) in the form of faxes, emails and telephone calls.

“The United Nations Secretary General is Korean so international pressure will be most effective.

“The current administration puts a high premium on Korea’s international reputation. So if we put pressure from here in Korea and internationally, we can persuade them to restore the 7th clause on sexual orientation that was stricken from the bill.”