Main | Sunday, December 07, 2014

SEOUL: Activists Stage City Hall Sit-In After Mayor Backtracks On LGBT Rights

Just two months ago Seoul Mayor Park Won-Soon earned international headlines when he expressed his hope that South Korea would be the first Asian nation to legalize same-sex marriage.  South Korea's powerful Christian lobby screamed with outrage and Park soon recanted. Yesterday activists occupied Seoul City Hall after Park reportedly refused to allow LGBT rights to be added to the city charter. Via press release from the activists:
We, Rainbow Action, a coalition of 20 LGBT organizations of the Republic of Korea, have an urgent request for your support to stop discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity by the Mayor of Seoul Metropolitan Government (“SMG”), Mr. Park Won-Soon, in the Republic of Korea.

Mayor Mr. Park, formerly a human rights lawyer, is halting the process of enacting the Seoul Charter of Human Rights (“the Charter”), because the Charter includes a provision that states the principle of non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. He then expressly and publicly denounced the rights of LGBT people. The Charter was duly drafted and passed by the Citizen Committee. It awaits proclamation by Mr. Park, which he now rejects. We need your support to make it happen!

The Charter was drafted and passed by the Citizen Committee, composed of 134 lay citizens and 30 human rights experts, including professors and activists, on November 28, 2014. The SMG, however, announced on November 30, 2014 that it would not proclaim the Charter. And the next day, December 1, 2014, Mr. Park, at a meeting with protestant pastors, assured that “As the Mayor of Seoul, I do not support homosexuality.” He apologized to the pastors for the “social conflicts” caused during the process and confirmed that the Charter will not be made with inclusion of such provisions that cause “social conflicts.”

The ‘social conflicts,’ which Mr. Park refers to, in fact mean the instances where the hate groups had caused during the deliberation process in drafting the Charter. The hate groups, mostly fundamental Christians, violently disrupted the public hearing on November 20, 2014. The SMG, however, did not stop the hate groups, or try to call the police, and only left the hate groups to forcibly end the public hearing. The SMG’s non-action to such hate-motivated violence, in addition to Mr. Park’s remark before the pastors, clearly express the intention to condone, and thus authorize, discrimination and violence against LGBT people.
My report on the above-cited incident is here.

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