A Seoul district has partially lifted its ban on a local gay group’s advertisement banner following the state human rights body’s recommendation.
The Mapo District office recently notified Mapo Rainbow Residents’ Solidarity that it would allow its ad campaign, but only if it removed a statement deemed to be an exaggeration.
The local office and the activist group have been in discord since last year when the office did not permit the group’s gay rights street banners.
The office said that the phrases on the two banners ― “One out of 10 people passing by here is a sexual minority” and “LGBT, we live here now” ―- were partly exaggerated and may disgust some residents.
Following a petition from the civic group, the National Human Rights Commission of Korea in June recommended the local office not ban the ads based on sexual minorities-related content. It also advised Mapo to provide human rights education for civil servants.
It also judged that the allegedly exaggerated phrases did not violate advertisement law, which only applies to business commercials.
While the district accepted the commission’s suggestion, room for controversy still remains as it said it would not allow the phrase claiming one in 10 people are a sexual minority.
“According to the banner’s wording, 39,000 out of the total Mapo residents should be a sexual minority. There are no such statistics or grounds that can prove that phrase,” a district official was quoted as saying in a news report.
“The office decided not to authorize the phrase as it could negatively affect teenagers who have not established definite gender identities yet.”
The civic group will once again seek the ad’s approval with the same wording soon.
“The idea that the existence of LGBT is detrimental to youth is still a discriminatory way of thinking,” said a Mapo Rainbow Residents’ Solidarity’s activist.
Gay issues recently entered the spotlight when film director Kim-Jho Gwang-soo, 48, and film distributor Kim Seung-hwan, 29, held the nation’s first gay wedding in Seoul last month.
Although same-sex marriage is not legal in Korea, the couple are to seek a formal approval for their marriage and are considering filing a petition to the Constitutional Court if the government refuses to approve it.
By Lee Hyun-jeong (email@example.com