Main | Monday, June 01, 2015

SOUTH KOREA: Christian Groups Force Police To Deny Permit For Seoul Pride

Last year Christian activists disrupted Seoul Pride when hundreds lay down in the street to prevent the parade from proceeding. That tactic may prevent this year's parade from happening at all. Via the Korea Observer:
South Korea’s Pride Parade has been rejected by the Namdaemun Police Station and Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency due to pressure from conservative groups according to the Korea Queer Cultural Festival’s (KQCF) organising committee. The Pride Parade originated in Seoul in 1990 with only 50 people attending. Last year around 20,000 people attended. However, for the first time in Korean history non-affirming church groups blocked the pride parade in 2014 causing major traffic jams and tension between the Christian groups, the LGBT members and the community. “This is the sixteenth year of the Pride Parade and last year the hate groups started to try to ban sexual minority groups,” Yun Candy said. “Mostly they are conservative Christians, they come to our pride parade and sit in front of our pride parade and stop it for five hours,” she said. A police officer at the Namdaemun Police Station claims that they rejected the application because they expected a major standoff between LGBT and Christian groups.
Christian activists physically blockaded the police station last week to prevent the permit application from even being filed.
Protestant groups have vigorously opposed plans to hold a LGBT pride parade at Seoul Plaza on June 28, physically blocking applications for the necessary permits. On May 21, police announced they would accept applications for public events at the end of June on a first-come, first-served basis at Namdaemun Police Station. This prompted a group calling itself the “Love Your Country, Love Your Children Movement” to queue outside the station indefinitely to prevent the festival organizers from applying for a permit. A similar concerted campaign by Christian groups to book out public venues forced the postponement of the event from its earlier date of May 13, when it was scheduled to be held in a different part of the city.

The organizers for the Korea Queer Festival have already received the go ahead from Seoul Metropolitan government for the new date, but also need police approval to use the public space. LGBT activists lined up outside the police station this week to register their parade and to protest the actions of the Christian demonstrators and the police, whom they have accused of favoritism. Candy Yun, a member of the organizing committee for the festival, told The Diplomat that she suspects the police tipped off the Christian protestors in advance about the application procedure. “When we called the police station for a complaint, one of the police officials said they decided to make a line [for submitting applications] because they got lots of complaints from the Christian groups.”
Last year's parade was supported by the US embassy and Google. Opponents are largely organized by the Christian Council of Korea, a coalition claiming to represent 20 Christian groups and 12 million South Koreans.

VIDEO: An Italian tourist filmed last year's disruption.

NOTE: The 1990 date in the first linked piece above appears to be an error. Other sources report that the parade began in 2000, which jibes with the mentioned 16th anniversary being this year.

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