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I’m free to go out have coffee and cake

It still amazes me that, after almost one year since the new coronavirus started sweeping across the world, we are still talking about attacks on individual freedoms when it comes to tackling the pandemic.

I live in South Korea. Back in February, when a major outbreak struck the city of Daegu with a few hundred cases daily, streets there emptied overnight. Not because authorities said so, but because people were terrified of catching the virus.

The government started rolling out an aggressive contact tracing programme to ensure that every time a case occurred, people who might have come across the virus would be tested, isolated, and treated. …


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A fan distributed at Incheon Queer Culture Festival 2019. It reads “No to homosexuality (gender equality).” Homophobes advocate for equality of the two sexes rather than gender, which they believe cannot freely be changed.

A push to effectively delete sexual minorities from law is gaining support in South Korea’s parliament.

On November 12, Ahn Sang-soo of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party proposed a revision to the National Human Rights Commission of Korea Act. The Act gives the body the remit to investigate discrimination against anyone based on a list of reasons.

“The term ‘discriminatory act of violating the right of equality’ means an act which falls under any of the following items, without a rational reason, on the grounds of sex, religion, disability, age […] sexual orientation, academic career, medical history, etc.” …


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An Incheon Queer Culture Festival organiser and participant hug after a standoff that lasted for hours at the Sept. 8, 2018 festival. (Photo: Raphael Rashid)

What was meant to be a celebration of love, pride, and identity turned into a violent attack on parade attendees by radical “Christians” in the port city of Incheon, South Korea. The stage was sabotaged, people were beaten up, and many were left traumatised.

It was September 8, 2018, the city’s first pride festival.

I had reported from Seoul Pride only weeks before. I wrote about it, even made a viral video. I came to the conclusion that things were changing for the better for South Korea’s LGBTQ community.

And then Incheon happened.


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Protest held in front of Daegu Detention Center on July 16, 2019. (Source: Newsmin)

A detention facility in Daegu, South Korea, has reportedly placed a male inmate in solitary confinement for being gay, according to local civic rights groups.

Daegu Queer Culture Festival Organizing Committee and North Gyeongsang Provincial Anti-Discrimination Law Enactment Coalition claim that a male inmate in his fifties, only referred to as ‘A’, has been confined in Daegu Detention Center since April, and later in solitary confinement in a cell measuring less than four square metres. The centre also allegedly outed his sexuality to other inmates.

Detention centres are designed to house unconvicted prisoners.

In an alleged hand-written letter, ‘A’ asks to be treated the same as other inmates. …


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Begpackers in Seoul’s Jongno 3-ga. Left: “I am travelling the world. I need money to travel. Please help!!” Right: “We are travelling in Korea. Need food and hostel money.” (Photo: Raphael Rashid)

I’ve been called Seoul’s “begpacker buster” by local and international media, for calling out foreigners who beg on the street and reporting them to the police. I’ve been highly critical of them — especially on Twitter to draw attention to what I believe to be a growing problem in South Korea.

For those unfamiliar with the term, a “begpacker” — a portmanteau of the words “beg” and “backpacker” — refers to a traveller who funds their travels around the world by asking for financial help on the streets. Some play instruments, others sell postcards or photos from their travels. Others put out a hat. …


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Pro Korean football team Daejeon Citizen Football Club is being condemned for axing a foreign football player one day after being recruited on the grounds that he was HIV positive.

On July 12, Daejeon Citizen FC issued a press statement announcing the recruitment of a new Brazilian player. This was widely reported by Korean media, citing his merits and expected performance. But on July 13, just one day after the recruitment announcement, Daejeon Citizen released another statement to say it had cancelled the contract due to the player allegedly being HIV positive.


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Seoul’s Jongno 3-gay is a popular gay district.

Korean taxi driver ‘A’ who extorted drunk gay passengers by luring them to touch his privates and then demanded a payment for not reporting them for sexual assault has been sentenced to 16 months prison. His accomplice ‘B’ received 1 year prison.

The taxi driver would go to Seoul’s gay district Jongno 3-ga and pick up intoxicated passengers “who appeared to be gay”, honey-trapping them to touch his genitals.

He’d get them to sit in the passenger seat and would say “These days, I’m curious [about men]” and induce them into touching his penis.

He’d then say he’d tell the police. It was the perfect crime as some victims would be too afraid of being outed. …


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Attendees at the 2017 Seoul Queer Culture Festival wearing flags demanding Article 92–6 of the Military Criminal Act to be repealed. (Credit: Raphael Rashid)

The gay witch-hunt in the South Korean military has restarted.

This time, it’s in the Korean Navy: According to the Military Human Rights Center for Korea (MHRCK) on March 12, three Navy soldiers have been investigated on suspicion of breaching Article 92–6 of the Military Criminal Act. The article bans serving members of the military from having consensual sexual intercourse with people of the same sex.

MHRCK alleges that a soldier, Navy A, sought counselling about his sexual orientation. He revealed he had homosexual intercourse with another soldier. …


How one flag terrifies South Korea’s Protestant Church

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Students who were disciplined for dressing in rainbow-colored clothes while attending a chapel worship class at a South Korean Christian university have filed a lawsuit against the school to have their punishments invalidated.

The disciplinary action, which includes suspension from class and community service, was imposed by the Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary (PUTS), located in the country’s capital Seoul, as the act of “advocating homosexuality” was determined to be a violation of the PUTS’ code of conduct, and tarnished the school’s reputation.

Representing the students, progressive legal organization Lawyers for a Democratic Society, widely known as Minbyun, filed a lawsuit on December 4, 2018, with the Seoul Eastern District Court against PUTS to nullify the punishments. …

About

Raphael Rashid

Seoul-based freelance journo. Korea Exposé co-founder. Formerly Edelman Korea. 📧 raphael [at] rashid.kr. @koryodynasty

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