South Korea is undoubtedly one of the world's industrial leaders that actively develops and implements new standards, technologies and innovative solutions of the most pressing problems. At the same time, the situation with human rights in the country is somewhat questionable. That is especially true when it comes to LGBTQ community. The recent report of Amnesty International outlines numerous problems sexual minorities face. Sadly, it looks like that the Korean government officials are not willing to take any actions for the situation to improve.
What are the rights and protections provided to LGBTQ people in South Korea as of 2020? In short, being LGBTQ is legal AND transgenders are allowed to change their gender without reassignment surgery. That is, at large all. No protection against discrimination is provided. Same-sex relationships are not recognized. As a consequence no benefits are available for same-sex partners. Finally, same-sex are refused adoption. Things are becoming even more complicated when it comes to military services. In particular, Article 92 of Military Penal Code considers same-sex relationships as a "sexual harassment" punishable up to 1 year in prison. In 2010 the military court ruled it to be illegal. The decision, however, was upheld in 2011 by the Constitutional Court. The law is still debated by the legislators.
Sadly, the voices of LGBTQ people in South Korea could hardly be heard. There are almost no lotical parties putting LGBTQ rights in their agenda. The only exclusion is the Democratic Labour Party. As a consequence of such misrepresentation the rights of the community are continued to be violated. The most recent case that went viral was related again with military. Transgender Sergeant Byun Hui-su was forced to discharge from the Korean army after undergoing reassignment surgery. Despite the will of serving as a female soldier, military authorities have not found it possible. The reason beyond all the troubles of LGBTQ people in South Korea is quute simple. “Rulings by the Constitutional Court only cannot bring about progress in human rights. The parliament and the government should show political leadership to improve human rights,” as Lee Kyung-eun from Amnesty International Korea put it. Should the trigger of remorms be Korean or enforced from outside?