Published : 2013-12-10 17:44
Updated : 2013-12-10 18:36
Film director Kim-Jho Gwang-soo (left) and film distributor Kim Seung-hwan hold a marriage registration file to be sent to a ward office at a press conference in Seoul, Tuesday. The couple had the nation's first gay wedding in September. (Ahn Hoon / The Korea Herald)
Controversy is growing over same-sex marriage as a local ward office plans to turn down a marriage registration request by the nation’s first “married” gay couple here.
Seodaemun-gu Office in northern Seoul said Tuesday that it will refuse to register the marriage between two men ― film director Kim-Jho Gwang-soo and film distributor Kim Seung-hwan ― citing the Constitution.
“Based on the first clause of the article 36 of the Constitution which defines marriage as a union between a man and woman, (the office) has decided not to accept their marriage registration,” the office said. “We have decided to send them a notification that we are not able to accept their request,” it added.
The comments came on the same day the couple said they would seek legal approval of their marriage.
“We will submit a marriage registration to the ward office in order to get state recognition of our wedding (vows) publicly (exchanged) in September,” Kim-Jho said at a press conference.
The couple held a symbolic wedding in Seoul in September, amid intensifying disputes over same-sex marriage and sexual minorities. The two have been partners for nine years.
If the government refuses to legally recognize their marriage, they would consider filing a petition with the Constitutional Court, the couple said.
“If the government refuses to acknowledge our marriage, it will be (seen as) an apparent discrimination against sexual minorities,” Kim-Jho said.
“(The government) should not deprive sexual minorities of rights to form families in Korea,” he added. Gay rights activists and civic groups have backed their decision, vowing to join the legal fight.
The move to seek legal approval of the same-sex marriage was met with strong opposition from church groups and conservative activists.
“We oppose the attempt to legalize same-sex marriage that goes against the Constitution and breaks families and social order,” the group said at a rally held in front of the couple’s press conference.
By Cho Chung-un