New rape law to acknowledge Korea’s male and trans victims

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

An opposition MP in South Korea has proposed new legislation that would extend the definition of a rape victim to include men and transsexuals.

Democratic Party Representative Choi Young-hee said that there were more than 1,000 male victims of sex crimes in 2007, up from 468 in 2004.

Under Korean law only women are classed as rape victims.

“The number of male juvenile victims increased to 242 last year from 97 in 2004. We need to devise measures to tackle this trend,” she said, according to the Korean Times.

Ms Choi claimed: “15.8% of soldiers in basic training have experienced sexual harassment.

“The bill is also seeking to protect those who change their sex.’’

All young men in the country are obliged to serve in the military or in the riot police for up to two years and have to take a test at the time of enlistment which includes various questions about their sexual orientation.

Gay sex is a serious offence under military codes, and gay men have been regularly viewed as mentally ill and sent to mental institutions.

In 2005, eight soldiers were thrown out of South Korea’s military for homosexuality, according to army statistics revealed at the time.

A year later, a soldier attempted suicide several times after telling his superiors he was gay.

The first phase of new military regulations went into effect on April 1st 2006.

They restricted the use of personal information about gay soldiers on military documents, ended the forced medical examinations of gay troops and punished perpetrators of sexuality-based physical or verbal abuse.

Previously those who have “abnormal” sexual identities such as gays, lesbians and bisexual people, were not allowed to serve in the Armed Forces.

There is no mention of homosexuality in the South Korean Constitution or Civil Penal Code.

However, in practice, discrimination against gay people and censorship of gay websites is fairly common.