The Korea Herald


Campaign for same-sex marriage legislation kicks off

By Lee Jung-youn

Published : June 20, 2023 - 15:10

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Activists holding signs reading Activists holding signs reading "Marriage equality" pose for a picture behind a "Marriage Equality Korea" banner following a press conference held at Jung-gu, Seoul, on Tuesday.

Civic groups and activists on Tuesday launched a campaign calling for the legalization of same-sex marriage in South Korea.

The groups, Solidarity for LGBT Human Rights of Korea and the Korean Network for Partnership and Marriage Rights of LGBT, held a press conference in Jung-gu, Seoul, to launch the “Marriage Equality Korea” campaign. The campaign will advocate for and promote the legalization of same-sex marriage in Korea, supported by group actions.

Yi Ho-rim, an activist from Solidarity for LGBT Human Rights of Korea, began the press conference by saying, "Sexual minorities have become more visible over the last few years, but the legal system for their rights is still very insufficient.”

The Marriage Equality Korea campaign aims to support the right to marriage for all and to improve awareness about it by regularly introducing and showing the diverse daily lives of LGBTQ+ people, explained Yi. Other activists and civic groups vowed that they will continue to urge politicians to discuss marriage equality as a serious item on the national political agenda.

As a part of the campaign, civic groups are planning to file multiple lawsuits simultaneously in 2024 on the behalf of same-sex couples nationwide to pursue their marriage rights. Also, to promote the campaign more widely to the public, videos showing the daily lives of same-sex couples living in Korea will be transmitted not only through social media but also via electronic billboards in Gwanghwamun Square and bus advertisements in time for the Seoul Queer Culture Festival on July 1.

Shin Han-na, communications team chief for Amnesty International Korea, made a statement in support of the campaign, emphasizing that international law guarantees everyone's right to be free from discrimination, including on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

"Allowing same-sex couples to marry does not cause any problems for the union of other heterosexual couples. No one will become less happy with the enactment of the Marriage Equality Act. Rather, the law will only help more of us become happier," Shin said.

Kim Yong-min and So Sung-uk, a same-sex couple in their 30s who are LGBTQ+ rights activists, also participated in the press conference to support the campaign.

"Most of the people we meet in our daily lives simply treat us as neighbors. If you realize that LGBTQ+ people are also your neighbors, there will be no reason for you to exclude or reject us. The Marriage Equality Korea campaign will serve as an opportunity for more people to realize this,” said Kim.

Rep. Jang Hye-young of the minor progressive Justice Party, who has consistently been a voice for the rights of those identifying as LGBTQ+ and other minorities, urged politicians to adapt to social change: “The National Assembly must declare that marriage is not a privilege of heterosexuals, but a right and a choice that every individual can make,” said Jang.