Government officials attempt to stop Pride festival set up in South Korea

Seoul Pride

Police and government workers clashed as the organisers of an annual South Korean Pride festival attempted to set up the event amid claims the festival would “illegally” occupy the roads.

On Saturday (17 June) the 15th annual Daegu Queer Culture Festival was slated to take place in South Korea’s fourth largest city, Daegu.

The city’s mayor, Hong Joon-pyo, has been openly opposed to the festival taking place and stated the rally would illegally block the roads, something the Daegu police force disagree with and assert freedom of assembly is guaranteed under the constitution.

On Saturday morning, as reported by the Yonhap News Agency, around 500 government officials gathered in the city’s shopping district of Dongseongno to prevent the organisers from setting up the festival stage and booths.

Amid the stand-off, which lasted around 30 minutes, police eventually began to physically remove the officials in order to make way for the organiser’s trucks to enter the festival venue and set up.

Around 20 minutes later, the mayor gave an emergency press conference at the scene, where he said the festival organisers had “illegally occupied” the roads and he would hold the chief of the Daegu police force responsible for the situation

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Prior to the festival day, the mayor has expressed contempt for the festival on social media, even issuing his support for the Daegu Christian General Association’s court petition to ban the Pride festival. 

The injunction request was rejected by the court, officials of which cited the importance of freedom of expression.

In the same Facebook post, Joon-pyo said the festival would “instil wrong sexual culture in the youth”.

“The rights of sexual minorities are important, but the rights of the majority are equally important,” he added.

Daegu mayor should cease ‘anti-minority politics’

In a statement, Lawyers for a Democratic Society chairman Cho Young-sun said the mayor must immediately “stop the politics of hate and guarantee the freedom of assembly guaranteed by the constitution”.

Young-sun went on to say Joon-pyo “stigmatised” the Queer Culture Festival as an “illegal road-occupying assembly”.

“The Constitution prohibits the permission system for assembly and demonstration, and today’s administrative execution by Hong Joon-pyo and his subordinate city hall officials is clearly an illegal administration that violates legal procedures as well,” he continued.

“Daegu City should immediately stop trying to fundamentally block and regulate the freedom of assembly under the pretext of road occupation permits.

“Our meeting sternly warns mayor Hong Joon-pyo to immediately stop anti-minority politics and immediately stop disrupting the Daegu Queer Culture Festival assembly,” Young-sun added.

“The Daegu Queer Culture Festival will and should proceed peacefully, with the assembly and march reported.”

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