Organizers of the largest LGBTI pride event in South Korea urged the government not to give in to conservative groups and protect attendees.
The 20th Queer Culture Festival will take place in May, including a parade on June 1, organizers said at a press conference on Tuesday (26 February).
Organizers have applied for government permission to use Seoul Plaza as the starting point of the parade.
Pride events in Korea are increasingly under attack from conservative Christians. The groups pressure authorities to deny permission and violently disrupt activities.
‘The government should drop its attitude of walking on eggshells around haters and instead show its willingness to guarantee universal rights for the socially marginalized, including sexual minorities’ said organizer Kang Myung-jin.
He called on the Seoul government and police to protect their rights to hold the event and ensure participants safety, according to the Korea Herald.
Organizers tend to keep the pride parade secret until the last minute to deter anti-LGBTI activists.
But, according to the Korea Herald, organizers made the date public early this year to confront the hatred head-on.
Pride under attack
South Korea’s fledging LGBTI movement has triggered a conservative backlash, rights groups recently warned.
Homosexuality is legal in South Korea. But, conservative attitudes, especially among Christians, force many LGBTI Koreans to live in the closet.
What’s more, there is currently no discrimination legislation to protect LGBTI Koreans. Same-sex marriage is also not legal.
According to activist Minsoo Kim, LGBTI Koreans are ‘facing hate and ignorance in every moment of their lives’.
Conservative Christian groups have launched significant attacks against LGBTI pride events in 2018.
More than 200,000 people signed a petition demanding the government acts to prevent the Seoul Queer Festival from taking place.
‘We do not want to see their abominable events in a square’ the petition read.
In Busan,thousands of police protected pride attendees.
This year’s Seoul Queer Culture Festival takes the theme ’20th Fight for Rights’.
It is slated to include performances by bands, LGBTQ artists.
There will be information booths from human rights organizations, global companies, embassies and universities to raise awareness of LGBTI issues.
Organizers have also taken inspiration from Singapore and Hong Kong by including a ‘pink dot’.
Attendees will be encouraged to wear pink and gather together to show solidarity with LGBTI people.