South Korea: LGBT protesters occupy Seoul City Hall after rights charter axed

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A group of protesters have staged a sit-in at Seoul City Hall, after the government dropped plans for a human rights charter which banned discrimination against gays.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government had been due to enact a charter next week, on December 10 – Human Rights Day – which included the right “not to be discriminated against based on his or her sexual orientation or sexual identity”.

However, after it picked up flack from church groups and conservatives, the planned charter was postponed indefinitely.

A statement from the Seoul Metropolitan Government had said: “The charter of human rights for Seoul citizens is supposed to be a pact created and enacted by the citizens themselves.

“Unfortunately, working on this charter has been creating more social conflicts. We would like to take more time to listen to a variety of opinions from our citizens on this matter.”

LGBT protest group Rainbow Action yesterday began staging a sit-in over the incident, demanding that Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon apologise for the debacle.

The group have unfurled a banner which says “To sexual minorities, human rights mean life”, and a number of rainbow banners.

A statement from the group said: “At a meeting with Protestant pastors, Mr Park apologized to the pastors for the ‘social conflicts’ caused during the process and confirmed that the Charter will not be made with inclusion of such provisions.

“The Mayor’s denying the Charter… is an act of discrimination by the State that does not comport with the Constitution and the National Human Rights Commission Act, as well as the international human rights law.

We, LGBT activists and supporters, now occupied the City Hall to protest against the discrimination. Mr Park has never responded yet to our repeated requests to have a meeting.

“The Charter must be proclaimed, as is originally scheduled on December 10, 2014, Human Rights Day, in Seoul.”