More than 210,000 people have signed a petition on the web site of the South Korean president’s office demanding that an “abominable” gay pride festival scheduled to take place in central Seoul this weekend be cancelled.
The three-day Seoul Queer Culture Festival is marking its 19th anniversary this year and will include art exhibitions and a film festival.
The highlight of the event will be the Seoul Queer Parade on Saturday afternoon around Seoul Plaza, the historic square in front of the city’s old City Hall that was the fulcrum of the March 1919 independence movement and the June 1987 pro-democracy movement.
The festival, along with a similar event in the city of Daegu in late June, has attracted the ire of traditionalists and conservatives in South Korean society, along with the nation’s large and influential religious lobby.
The petition was started on June 14 on the web site of the Blue House, the office of President Moon Jae-in, and states, “We are not discriminating against sexual minorities, but Seoul Plaza belongs to all citizens”.
“We do not want to see their abominable events in a square where we should be able to rest and relax”, it adds. “Every year, queer-themed events such as street performances, drinking and smoking are called ‘cultural festivals’, but they are just occasions filled with illegal acts and hypocrisy.
“Homosexuals and normal people should not engage in such perverse and obscene events in a plaza that is meant to be a space for citizens to relax”, it adds. “True human rights are not indulgences”.
Homosexulaity is not illegal in South Korea, although it remains punishable in the military with a prison term of up to one year.
Same-sex marriages are not recognised, however, and traditional society generally frowns upon open displays of homosexuality.
A poll in December 2017 determined that 52 percent of Koreans are opposed to same-sex marriages, over 41 percent who support such unions.
The issue has even caught senior political figures out, with Mr Moon – who worked as a human rights lawyer before going into politics – triggering the anger of the homosexual community by stating during his campaign to become president last year that he was “against” homosexuality and insisting that gay soldiers would undermine the nation’s military.
Mr Moon also said he opposed same-sex marriages, with critics accusing him of pandering to the powerful religious lobby to win votes.
by Julian Ryall, in Tokyo
Source – The Telegraph