A court in the capital of South Korea, Seoul on Thursday (30 May) rejected an application by conservative Christian groups to stop the annual LGBTI pride event this weekend.
Anti-LGBTI groups had argued the 20th Seoul Queer Culture Festival (SQCF) would be harmful to children and infringed on their rights.
The court said people were free not to attend the rally so their rights were not infringed.
A judge vowed to protect freedom of expression and assembly.
Meanwhile, the judge said it was difficult to conclude that the event would be harmful to children or teenagers attending.
A conservative Christian backlash has hit South Korea’s fledgling LGBTI rights movement.
Well-organized groups have been fighting LGBTI pride events in the courts and on the streets.
Earlier this month, authorities dropped an investigation into violence at a rally in Incheon.
Last year, more than 200,000 people signed a petition demanding the government acts to prevent the Seoul Queer Festival from taking place.
Anti-LGBT groups on Thursday were already setting up for their counter-demonstration at Seoul Plaza.
Local journalists reported police were also preparing.
The stage is being set, prayer books and megaphones are out, homophobic banners ready, barricades mounted.
Pinkdot event tomorrow, parade on Saturday.
— Raphael Rashid (@koryodynasty) May 30, 2019
Homosexuality is legal in South Korea. But conservative attitudes, especially among Christians, force many LGBTI Koreans to live in the closet.
There is also currently no discrimination legislation to protect LGBTI Koreans. Same-sex marriage is not legal.
In its 2019 world report, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said leaders had done little to protect the rights of LGBTI people in South Korea.
The country’s LGBTI movement has triggered a conservative backlash, HRW warned.
Christian and anti-LGBTI protesters have disrupted pride events across the country in the last year.
The groups pressure authorities to deny permission and violently disrupt activities.
Organizers and witnesses of the Incheon Queer Culture Festival (IQCF) say about 1,000 anti-LGBTI and Christian demonstrators verbally and physically abused attendees of a march in September last year.
Incheon city officials had denied the queer festival’s request to host the event, citing a lack of parking. Organizers, therefore, lodged an appeal and vowed to march anyway.
In Busan, it took thousands of police to keep a pride event violence-free.
In Jeju, about 50 demonstrators held placards, grabbed LGBTI attendees, and lay down on the street to prevent the pride march, according to attendees.