Seoul mayor hopes South Korea ‘will be the first’ Asian nation to allow equal marriage

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

In a first for mainstream politics in South Korea, Seoul mayor Park Won-soon has spoken publicly to endorse same-sex marriage.

In an interview with the San Francisco Examiner on Sunday, Mr Won-soon said that he hoped South Korea would become the first Asian nation to legalise same-sex marriage.

He said: “I personally agree with the rights of homosexuals. But the Protestant churches are very powerful in Korea. It isn’t easy for politicians.

“It’s in the hands of activists to expand the universal concept of human rights to include homosexuals. Once they persuade the people, the politicians will follow. It’s in process now.”

When asked whether he thought Taiwan might be the first Asian country to allow same-sex marriage over a proposed marriage equality bill, he said: “I hope Korea will be the first.”

“Many homosexual couples in Korea are already together,” he added.

“They are not legally accepted yet, but I believe the Korean Constitution allows it. We are guaranteed the right to the pursuit of happiness. Of course, there may be different interpretations to what that pursuit means.”

It is legal to be gay in South Korea. However, the country does not offer same-sex marriage or civil partnerships for same-sex couples.

Gay couples can not adopt and there is no anti-discrimination legislation to help protect LGBT people.

Efforts to include protection of sexual orientation in the Anti-Discrimination Act are opposed by religious groups and have been thus far unsuccessful.