Home > Racial Discrimination, Rule of Law > Homosexuality is No Longer a Sin in the Society but is Still a Crime in the Military

Homosexuality is No Longer a Sin in the Society but is Still a Crime in the Military

Tues Jun 15

Hyoyeol Chong

On June 12, the 11th Korea Queer Culture Festival titled “Outing,” took place in Cheonggyechon, Seoul. Within the Festival there were information booths from religious groups, political groups and NGOs. A parade took place with special guests including Seok-chon Hong, one of the first Korean actors to declare his homosexuality, and Theodore W. Jennings, a professor from the Chicago Theological Seminary and advocate of Church-LGBT relations.

Aside from this festival, dramas, movies and music videos about homosexuality are becoming more and more common in Korea. A Korean drama, titled “Beautiful Life,” depicts love between two men and their difficulties in society, and the drama has become a sensation in Korean society. Expressing different sexualities openly has been taboo for a very long time in Korea; however Koreans have slowly started to accept homosexuality within society. Movies such as, “The King and The Clown,” “Ssanghwajeum” and “No Regret,” each depict homosexual love and the difficulties of it within the conservative mood of society, have also contributed to the change and the decline of prejudice.

In regards to this changing climate Seok-chon Hong said, “Some people should have told this kind of story beforehand. I appreciate that homosexuality is being dealt in mass media and I want people to know homosexuals can be our friends or family members.” Another participant in the festival would state that, “Mass media is much more effective than our sixteen years of effort. It is obvious that we gays can show up in the society compared to the past.”

Changing perspectives of society on sexual minorities is evident due to mass media and festivals like these acknowledging the presence of homosexuality in Korean society. However, discrimination of homosexuals still exists, particularly within the military. There is controversy over clause 92 of the Military Criminal Law, which states that, “a person who commits sodomy is sentenced under one year imprisonment.” Sexual intercourse between a man and a woman is subject to disciplinary action but sodomy is unconditionally punished. The Court for Armed Forces argues that clause 92 infringes gay rights.

On one hand, there is a welcoming movement among people towards homosexuality in civilian society. On the other, homosexuals are treated as psychopaths and punished with legal penalties in the military. This means that there is no agreement in Korean society whether same-sex love should be dealt as pathological or another form of human love and it remains a roadblock for homosexual rights  in Korea.■

Contributed by HRM intern Ji-Su Park

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