South Korea: Gay couple hold first ever public same-sex wedding despite anti-gay law

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Two gay filmmakers staged the first public same-sex wedding in South Korea on Saturday, despite laws which prohibit gay couples from marrying in the country.

Film director and producer Kimjo Gwang-soo, 48, and 29-year-old Kim Seung-hwan, the head of gay film distributor Rainbow Factory, were married on a temporary stage built in central Seoul yesterday.

More than 1,000 guests and citizens attended the staged ceremony, reports the Korea Herald.

Mr Gwang-soo said: “I found out I was gay when I was 15 and I prayed to God everyday that he would fix it and couldn’t express my feelings even when I liked someone.

“But I hoped that one day I would be able to love confidently and nine years ago, I met that person.”

He thanked the audience for attending the wedding, saying he and his partner were now a married couple regardless of the law.

The wedding was briefly interrupted when a 54-year-old man claiming to be a church elder went climbed onto the stage and sprayed liquids from a food container.

“Homosexuality is a sin,” he shouted. “Homosexuality destroys families and society.”

The man was later taken into police custody.

It is legal to be gay in South Korea. However, recognition of LGBT citizens are limited. Efforts to include protection of sexual orientation in the Anti-Discrimination Act have been controversial and thus far unsuccessful.

The country does not legally recognise same-sex marriages.

General awareness of homosexuality remained low among the Korean public only until recently, with increased awareness and debate coming to the issue, as well as gay-themed entertainment in mass media and recognisable figures and celebrities coming out in public.

But Korean gays and lesbians still face difficulties, and many prefer not to reveal their gay identity to their family, friends or co-workers.

In May, a 27-year-old Ugandan woman became the first person to be granted refugee status in South Korea due to her sexuality.