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South Korean LGBT Activists Declare Victory After Seoul Mayor Agrees To Address Discrimination: VIDEO

Seoul

The mayor of Seoul, South Korea, has apologized for failing to proclaim a new civil rights charter that includes LGBT protections, and agreed to establish a panel to discuss ways to end discrimination, according to a coalition of activist groups.  

The LGBT coalition, called Rainbow Action, decided to end a six-day sit-in at Seoul City Hall after meeting with Mayor Park Won-soon last week. 

The sit-in began when Won-soon and the Seoul Municipal Government declined to proclaim the charter on World Human Rights Day as originally scheduled, saying the LGBT protections had caused "social conflict." 

The Rainbow Action coalition alleged Won-soon, a former human rights attorney who recently expressed support for same-sex marriage, had caved to pressure from South Korea's powerful right-wing religious lobby.

From Rainbow Action: 

In the end, at 5 PM on December 10, the fifth day of the sit-in, the mayor requested a private conversation with the protesters. Consequently, a delegation consisting of six representatives from both LGBT activist groups and civil NGOs met with him. From the start, dialogue had been one of the protesters’ demands. During the private conversation, the mayor apologized to the LGBT delegation, “It is my responsibility and fault.” Saying, “I am sorry for the emotional pain that you have suffered and will make whatever statements that you demand,” he made it clear that “This is an occasion for me to offer comfort for the emotional pain that you have suffered and to apologize to you” and, “regardless of any misunderstanding or statement, no citizen will be subjected to discrimination or disadvantage.” He also stated, “I will search for practical ways of resolving the difficulties that you suffer from.” 

Rainbow Action continued its sit-in when a subsequent press release from the city and Facebook post from the mayor glossed over the issues and offered only vague apologies. But the following morning, Seoul's innovation officer met with the protesters and agreed to form a panel to work on ending discrimination in city government, prompting Rainbow Action to throw a victory party and end the protest:  

Throughout the 6-day-long sit-in, the protesters were showered with support from both home and abroad. Indeed, over 300 NGOs including those for human rights, people with disability, women, civil society, laborers, and other minorities provided signatures of support in just one day. In addition, moving messages of support poured in from LGBT rights activist groups, major figures, and grassroots organizations overseas. Furthermore, countless people visited the City Hall and joined the cultural festival held every evening by the protesters. Through the sit-in, South Korean sexual minorities showed that the government and hate-mongers alike may not thoughtlessly disregard their rightful demand and movement for full social citizenship. The sit-in also served as an occasion for LGBT people in the nation to have more self-confidence and to confirm the future direction of their continued fight for justice and equality. The protesters are deeply grateful to friends and allies around the globe for their solidarity.

Watch Rainbow Action's video thanking supporters around the world, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

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Mayor Of Seoul, South Korea, Agrees To Meet With LGBT Activists Occupying City Hall

  SEOUL

(Photo via 성소수자 차별반대 무지개행동.)

South Korean LGBT activists announced Wednesday that Seoul Mayor Won Soon Park has agreed to meet with them to discuss his decision not to proclaim a new human rights charter over concerns that it has caused "social conflicts." 

The announcement comes on Human Rights Day — when the municipal government in Seoul was originally scheduled to proclaim the charter prohibiting discrimination against LGBT people. Instead, LGBT activists are in day five of a sit-in at Seoul City Hall.

The activists, under the LGBT umbrella group Rainbow Action, said on Facebook that Mayor Park has agreed to meet with them after Dec. 17, but for now they are continuing the sit-in: 

 
 
On Tuesday, Rainbow Action provided an update and pleaded for support from the LGBT community worldwide in an open letter published by The Huffington Post

The tersely worded letter slammed Mayor Park, a former human rights lawyer who commissioned the charter to fulfill a campaign promise, for being a "turncoat" and caving to pressure from the powerful right-wing religious lobby in South Korea: 

These groups of bigots have persistently pathologized and stigmatized sexual minorities and gender-nonconforming people. They have been virtually following every public event held by LGBTQ groups to violently disrupt those scenes and attack the participants for last few years. There was no exception this time. They did not hesitate to interrupt the public hearing on the Charter and consistently accused Mayor Park of being a pro-North Korea communist who will ultimately lead South Korean society astray. They keep identifying LGBTQ people with the left and condemning both as a danger to national security and social order. ... 

Perhaps Mayor Park chose to build a coalition with them as a foundation for his future political career because he is considering running for presidency in the next election. ... We deeply deplore that has become a turncoat, and are worried about its ripple effect on our previous and potential political allies. The extreme rightists and conservative Protestant groups now have a firm ground to stand behind, and can use the mayor of Seoul's discriminatory comment to justify their agenda of fanatical bigotry.

In addition to a meeting with Park, the activists are demanding that he apologize for failing to stop anti-LGBT protesters from disrupting meetings on the charter, and that he proclaim it as originally scheduled on Human Rights Day.  

The activists say international support is critical to their cause, and they are pleading with LGBT people across the globe to show their support by contacting Mayor Park via Twitter or by email.


South Korean LGBT Activists Occupy Seoul City Hall To Protest Mayor's Flip-Flop On Gay Rights: VIDEO

Seoul

South Korean LGBT activists began a sit-in at Seoul City Hall over the weekend to protest the mayor's decision to delay a proposed human rights charter because it includes language banning discrimination against gays. 

Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon (right), a former human rights lawyer, made headlines when he expressed support for same-sex marriage earlier this year. But Won-soon, a potential future presidential candidate, reportedly caved to political pressure from the right, including calls for his impeachment, over the human rights charter.  

WonsoonThe Seoul Municipal Government appointed a Citizens Committee of 164 experts to draft the human rights charter, which fulfilled a 2011 campaign promise from Won-soon. Last month, despite intense opposition from anti-gay groups, the committee voted to approve the final draft of the charter, which states that a person “has the right not to be discriminated against based on his or her sexual orientation or sexual identity." 

However, the Seoul Municipal Government subsequently announced it was indefinitely delaying the charter because the document had created "social conflicts" and because the gay nondiscrimination clause wasn't approved unanimously by the committee — even though that requirement had never been previously stated. According to Rainbow Action, a coalition of 20 LGBT groups, Won-soon later told a group of pastors, “As the Mayor of Seoul, I do not support homosexuality.”

On Saturday, Rainbow Action announced it was occupying Seoul City Hall to demand that the human rights charter be proclaimed on Wednesday, Dec. 10 — Human Rights Day — as originally scheduled. The group is also asknig people to support them by contacting Won-soon, who is sensitive to international pressure. From Rainbow Action:  

The Mayor’s denying the Charter for the reason that it states the non-discrimination principle on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is an act of discrimination by the State that does not comport with the Constitution and the National Human Rights Commission Act, as well as the international human rights law. The Charter must be proclaimed, as is originally scheduled on December 10, 2014, Human Rights Day, in Seoul.

We, LGBT activists and supporters, now occupied the City Hall to protest against the discrimination. Mr. Park has never responded yet to our repeated requests to have a meeting. We demand a meeting with the Mayor, Mr. Park Won-Soon. We demand him to proclaim the Charter.

Please show your support by sending messages to the Mayor of Seoul Metropolitan Government, Mr. Park Won-Soon (Twitter @wonsoonpark, Email wonsoon@seoul.go.kr, Fax +82-2-2133-0797 (Seoul Human Rights Center)), urging him to proclaim the Charter and observe the duty to protect LGBT people from any forms of discrimination and violence. 

To read and share the action alert, go here

Watch video of the sit-in, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "South Korean LGBT Activists Occupy Seoul City Hall To Protest Mayor's Flip-Flop On Gay Rights: VIDEO" »


Anti-Gay Protesters Halt LGBT-Inclusive Seoul Human Rights Charter in South Korea

800px-Seoul_City_Hall_01

Seoul, South Korea has scrapped a planned human rights charter offering protections for gay citizens following protests from anti-gay groups, reports Pink News.

The charter, which was proposed by the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) in August and was due to be enacted on December 10th to coincide with International Human Rights Day, included a clause that a person “has the right not to be discriminated against based on his or her sexual orientation or sexual identity.”

SeoulHowever, the last six public hearings on the charter were protested by anti-gay Christian groups.

Last Friday, almost half of the 180 citizen volunteers selected by the SMG to be a part of the enactment of the charter left a hearing in the city hall when they were told that the inclusion of the clause on gay rights would be decided by a vote.

While 60 of the remaining 73 volunteers voted in favor of the gay rights clause, the SMG said it was postponing the charter’s enactment as the citizen members had “failed to agree on the final copy of the charter successfully.”

In a statement, the SMG said:

“The charter of human rights for Seoul citizens is supposed to be a pact created and enacted by the citizens themselves.

“Unfortunately, working on this charter has been creating more social conflicts. We would like to take more time to listen to a variety of opinions from our citizens on this matter.”

In October, Seoul mayor Park Won-soon became the first mainstream South Korean politician to endorse gay marriage.




Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon Becomes First Major South Korean Politician to Endorse Gay Marriage

In an interview with The San Francisco Examiner on Sunday, Seoul mayor Park Won-soon became the first mainstream South Korean politician to endorse gay marriage.

The paper reports:

Park Won-soon"I personally agree with the rights of homosexuals," Park said. "But the Protestant churches are very powerful in Korea. It isn't easy for politicians. It's in the hands of activists to expand the universal concept of human rights to include homosexuals. Once they persuade the people, the politicians will follow. It's in process now."

I asked him if Taiwan might be the first Asian country to allow same-sex marriage since the Taiwanese legislature is considering a bill to legalize it.

"I hope Korea will be the first," Park said. "Many homosexual couples in Korea are already together. They are not legally accepted yet, but I believe the Korean Constitution allows it. We are guaranteed the right to the pursuit of happiness. Of course, there may be different interpretations to what that pursuit means."

Park is considered a top contender for president in 2017.


Gay South Korean Filmmaker to Marry Long-Term Partner

South Korean filmmaker Kim Jho Gwang-soo, the second person in the entertainment industry to come out (in 2010), announced plans to marry his partner of nine years on Wednesday, Reuters reports:

Kim"We wanted to convey the message that all sexual minorities should be given rights equally in a beautiful way," the 49-year-old Kim told a news conference in the South Korean capital of Seoul as he sat next to his partner, Kim Seung-hwan.

The two then kissed in an unprecedented display of affection for a same-sex couple in Korea, where traditional Confucian and Christian values remain strong...

...The two will marry on Sept 7, a symbolic move since Korea remains far from legalizing same-sex unions despite a wave of such approval in Europe and the United States...Homosexuality is not illegal in Korea, but like elsewhere in Asia the pressure to marry someone of the opposite sex to continue the family blood line is strong and leads many to hide their homosexuality.


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