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South Korea slipping on LGBTI rights, activists warn

South Korea slipping on LGBTI rights, activists warn

South Korea’s fledging LGBTI movement has triggered a conservative backlash, Human Rights Watch (HRW) warned this week.

In it’s 2019 world report, HRW said leaders had done little to protect the rights of LGBTI people in South Korea.

The rights group noted 210,000 people had signed a petition against a pride parade in capital, Seoul. Anti-LGBTI protestors also blocked a pride festival in Incheon.

Government education guidelines on sex education also discriminate against LGBT youth, HRW warned.

What’s more, South Korea’s constitutional court is currently considering whether to dismantle a law that punishes sexual acts between male soldiers with up to two years in prison.

Korean LGBTI activist Minsoo Kim told Gay Star News 2018 was a ’turning point’.

The hate and violence ‘will be remembered as the strongest backlash against the LGBTAIQ in Korea’s history so far’ he said.

Phil Robertson, Deputy Asia Director of Human Rights Watch, said people had expected more from president Moon Jae-in. Moon, a former human rights lawyer, had vowed to raise rights violations in the country.

‘Moon should change course, and act to protect and empower social minorities and vulnerable people, safeguard free expression’ Robertson said.

Homosexuality is legal in South Korea. But conservative attitudes, especially among Christians, force many LGBTI Koreans to live in the closet.

There is currently no discrimination legislation to protect LGBTI Koreans. Same-sex marriage is not legal.

Attacking pride

According to 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.

Christian protesters, meanwhile, disrupted LGBTI events across the country. They created particularly ugly scenes in Incheon.

In Busan, it took thousands of police to keep a pride event violence-free.

But, according to Minsoo Kim, organizers have also faced opposition from local administrations and organizations.

‘I hope community members have the courage to face the hate’ urged Minsoo Kim.

‘Stay strong, we will keep fighting against hate and discrimination’ he said.

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