South Korea’s military has resumed its hunt for homosexual servicemen, according to the country’s Military Human Rights Center.
Three men serving in the navy are under investigation for engaging in homosexual acts.
They face two years in prison under South Korea’s controversial sodomy law. Prosecutors can apply it even if the sexual acts took place outside military facilities.
Two years of military service is compulsory for all able-bodied South Korean men.
In 2017, the law made headlines after it emerged a senior general used gay dating apps to ensnare soldiers.
His so-called ‘gay witch hunt’ reportedly revealed 50 soldiers.
South Korea has faced calls from rights groups and the UN to review the law.
A, B and C
According to the Military Human Rights Center, three servicemen, known as ‘A’, ‘B’, and ‘C’, are under investigation.
Serviceman ‘A’ sought counseling over his sexual orientation. He revealed that he had sex with another soldier.
‘A’ was then interrogated by military police, who demanded to know who the other soldier was.
Military police then searched ‘B’s phone and found evidence of relations with ‘C’.
The commission said investigators raised irrelevant and degrading questions.
Police asked ‘B’ whether he identified as homosexual or bisexual.
They also asked which positions he had had sex in and whether he had ejaculated.
‘C’ was reportedly asked ‘are you homosexual?’ in a crowded office.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) last week urged South Korea to repeal the law.
HRW filed a briefing with South Korea’s Constitutional Court.
‘South Korea’s military sodomy law is a blight on the country’s human rights record and multiple human rights bodies have called for its abolition’ said Graeme Reid of Human Rights Watch (HRW).
‘Criminalizing adult consensual same-sex conduct should be relegated to the history books – it has no place in Korean society’ said Reid.
South Korea has recently defended the ban. It told the UN ‘indecent conduct’ charges are necessary for maintaining discipline in the predominantly male military.
In May last year, a court found an Army captain guilty of having sex with another soldier. It sentenced him to six months in prison. But, the sentence was suspended for one year.
In August, the government said it would review the law.
Slipping on LGBTI rights
South Korea’s fledging LGBTI movement has triggered a conservative backlash, HRW warned earlier this year.
In its 2019 world report, HRW said leaders had done little to protect the rights of LGBTI people in South Korea.
Government education guidelines on sex education also discriminate against LGBT youth, HRW warned.
Pride events in Korea are increasingly under attack from conservative Christians. The groups pressure authorities to deny permission and violently disrupt activities.
The National Human Rights Commission claimed it not ‘deny’ the rights of a same-sex couple to marry.
But, it also rejected a petition filed by a British and South Korean gay couple. They got married overseas and asked for their marriage to be recognized.