Saturday, June 13, 2015

More on Seoul Pride, Protests, and Human Rights

I just wanted to share this incredible photo shared on the KQCF Facebook page (courtesy Newsis). It's an aerial view of Tuesday's KQCF opening ceremony, in which you can clearly see just how many protesters attended the event.

Despite the protesters not having a permit to organize in Seoul Plaza, they showed up in droves and encircled half of the plaza. They had megaphones and posters and spent the entire evening singing, praying, and shouting at everyone on the other side of the yellow-lit barrier.

The barrier was manned by city police officers, who can also be seen in the image as the clumps of yellow who physically kept the protesters away.

On the bottom right, you can see the stage for the opening ceremony and a pretty sizable crowd of LGBTQ supporters and media. I mean, if it hadn't been for MERS, I'm willing to bet at least three-fourths of Seoul Plaza would be filled with attendees. You can also see a giant rainbow heart that was created using lighted balloons, right in the center of the field.

While we're on the subject of Seoul Pride, I'd like to share a post on Buzzfeed that shows more photos of the event and the protesters. It's rather bluntly titled "Seoul's Pride Events Are Off to a Pretty Terrible Start". And here's another article, from the Korea Observer, that describes the hate-filled atmosphere of the protests in more detail. While the situation does look bad from this point of view, I guess I want to say that a more positive outlook is both possible and necessary. Like I've said before, the LGBTQ activists in Korea have faced fierce opposition every year for over a decade, and I have faith that they will remain strong to fight the good fight for the rest of Pride Month and in the years to come.

And on a more positive note, Human Rights Watch published this open letter to the Korean president and government, urging them to take a stronger stand for LGBTQ rights and to permit the Pride Parade on the 28th (which was controversially denied a permit a few weeks ago). From the letter:

"The Seoul authorities’ failure to allow the LGBT pride parade is in stark contrast to the leadership role South Korea has taken internationally on LGBT rights. At the United Nations, South Korea voted for both the 2011 and 2014 Human Rights Council resolutions that called for an end to violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and that authorized development of global reports on the status of LGBT rights."

They're right. If South Korea wants to remain in good international standing in the field of human rights, it should let its actions speak louder than its words and protect the LGBTQ minority and also fight for their equality in the right to assemble, to marry, to adopt, etc. (But even if the rest of the developed, democratic world did not support LGBTQ rights, I'd hope that South Korea, a country that has experienced profound oppression in its recent history, would be able to recognize what's really happening here and rally for an end to institutional homophobia regardless.) I'm working on a translation of this short article on HuffPost Korea about how ambassadors and representatives from over a dozen countries took a stand for LGBTQ equality at last Tuesday's opening ceremony. Good on them for not caving to Korea's conservative crazies who want all LGBTQ-supporting foreigners to leave the country! And let's hope that the city government (at least) has a ready response.

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