Today, May 17, is the day when the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of mental diseases. It is also the International Day Against Homophobia. Today, LGBT people living in many countries around the world come out to the streets and rallies to convey the message that homophobia is violence that cannot be tolerated any longer.
Tragic events have occurred one after another across the world because of homophobia, causing hate crimes, including murder, assault, rape, torture, and threat, as well as bullying and degrading which sometimes leads to suicide.
Between 2008 and 2011, 680 transgendered people were subjected to “hate murder” in 50 countries. In Brazil, 3,196 homosexual persons were killed over a 30-year period.
In US, the number of crimes committed in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity expression was 1,617 during the year of 2008. Violence is committed not only by private people but also by the State. Homosexuality is criminalized in 76 countries and is punishable by death penalty or life sentence in 10 countries.
Korean society is no exception. Despite a previous belief to the contrary, homophobia is no longer hidden in Korean society. The conservative Christians explicitly, and increasingly, show their hates and oppositions against LGBT people and use it as a vehicle to display and boost their political power. Opposing to the clause in the Seoul Student Rights Ordinance that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, they took the offensive, claiming that “homosexuality should not be permitted in schools.” And, the Ministry of Education, Technology, and Science still attempts to interfere with the enforcement of the Ordinance, alleging that the Ordinance will cause chaos in schools.
The conservative Christians even succeeded in campaigning that “anywhere Lady Gaga goes, homosexuality is legalized,” causing her concert in Korea to be rated viewable only by over 18 years old. The Korean government and legislative agencies have kept silence and, even worse, echoed such homophobic remarks, suppressing the issue of human rights of LGBT people, frequently saying that “it is an issue of controversy.”
Their homophobic remarks are nothing more than an admission of irrationality and their ignorance. Nevertheless, they still exert their political power over the administrative and legislative agencies, spreading their propaganda “No left wings. They spread homosexuality.” Such propaganda by homophobic groups will continue unless it is firmly established that human rights of LGBT people are something that must be protected.
The conservative Christians are not the only homophobic individuals in our society. Article 92 of Military Penal Code includes as a punishable crime a consensual sexual contact between men.
The Ministry of Defense maintains the principle that military personnel who are known to be gay should be put on special supervision, which is mainly guided by prejudicial ideas against gays, including, for example, “special supervision is required over persons potentially identified as a gay in personality test,” “measures to prevent influx and spread of gays are needed in the military,” and “support will be provided for persons who wish conversion to heterosexual orientation.”
In addition, LGBT youth are isolated in schools. Rarely schools take any measures to protect LGBT youth from bullying and degrading. In addition, as is revealed from the recent incident where teenagers targeted transgendered people to commit group assaults and burglary, it is not unusual that LGBT people become victims to crimes particularly because they cannot easily disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity to the authorities.
In March this year, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon delivered a historic speech, asking countries to immediately end discriminatory practices against LGBT people. It is already a common sense in the international society that LGBT rights are human rights.
However, Korean society still suffers the reality that no legal schemes are in place to promote human rights of LGBT people except for the National Human Rights Commission Act. The enactment of an anti-discrimination law that may lay a foundation for protection of human rights has been stalled because of homophobia.
Today, on this International Day Against Homophobia, we, Coalition for LGBT Human Rights “Rainbow Action” affirm that we will commit ourselves to fighting against homophobia and the visible and invisible violences against LGBT people that are prevalent everywhere in South Korea.
We will also commit to advocating for a legal system that would help end homophobia, including legislation of an anti-discrimination law, and thereby coming closer to the day when LGBT people can enjoy equal rights as a citizen of this country.
We look forward to your support and participation in our movement to fight for “Equal Love and Equal Human Beings.” Thank you
May 17, 2012
Coalition for LGBT Human Rights “Rainbow Action”