More than 1,000 conservative Christian demonstrators verbally and physically attacked an LGBTI festival in South Korea’s Incheon on Saturday (8 September).
Protesters delayed the pride parade and forced organizers to cancel other planned events.
‘The parade, which was supposed to be 20 minutes long, ended up taking five hours to finish,’ the organizers of the event wrote on Twitter.
‘(No matter what happens), our existence and our love cannot be denied.’
Incheon city officials had denied the queer festival’s request to host the event last month, citing a lack of parking. Organizers lodged an appeal and vowed to march anyway.
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.
Pride flag smashed
Anti-gay protesters physically blocked 300 LGBTI supporters from leaving a plaza and beginning the march, organizers told the Korea Herald.
‘Our flags and banners were damaged by anti-gay protesters, and we could not eat nor use the bathroom throughout the entire day’, said LGBTI group, Rainbow Mama Papa, in a statement.
‘We express our gratitude to those who stayed with us in spite of such violence, especially the festival organizers who made their utmost efforts to ensure our safety. We’ll always be with the LGBT community in future’.
The demonstrators damaged vehicles and equipment, according to organizers. They punctured tires of cars and trucks to be used in the parade. They also smashed a flag and pole during scuffles.
Video shared on social media showed the violent scenes.
Record numbers attend Seoul event
Petitioners demanded the government acts to prevent the ’abominable’ festival from going ahead.
The said: ‘Homosexuals and normal people should not engage in such perverse and obscene events in a plaza that is meant to be a space for citizens to relax’. ‘True human rights are not indulgences’, the petition said.
In the end, more than a hundred thousand filled Seoul Plaza on Saturday to celebrate the 19th Seoul Queer Culture Festival in July.
It was a record turnout according to its organizers.