South Korean lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex activists claimed they were denied entry to the National Assembly audit of the Gender Ministry, which was held Monday, although they had been previously scheduled to attend the session as witnesses.
The two activists included Ryu Min-hee, an attorney at the Korean Lawyers for Public Interest and Human Rights, and Jeong Min-seok, the director of the DDing Dong LGBTQ Youth Crisis Support Center, who said they were abruptly told Oct. 5 by the Assembly’s Gender Equality and Family Committee that they were no longer invited to attend the audit session as witnesses.
The decision was reportedly made by the committee’s chairwoman, Rep. You Seung-hee of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy. Their invitation as witnesses had been confirmed on Oct. 5, the same day it was revoked just hours earlier.
A group of human rights and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex issues activists protest last week in front of the central government building in Seoul against the Gender Ministry’s recent order for Daejeon Metropolitan City to delete articles that guarantee LGBTI rights in the city’s newly revised charter of gender equality. (Claire Lee/The Korea Herald)
The two activists were to show up at the audit as witnesses of the Gender Ministry’s recent denial of LGBTI rights, involving the Daejeon Metropolitan City’s newly revised charter of gender equality. In August, the ministry sent the municipal government of Daejeon an official order to delete the charter’s newly introduced articles guaranteeing LGBTI rights, after receiving complaints from gay rights opponents and religious groups.
“Every other witness, six of them, who had been previously scheduled to attend the audit ended up attending the audit,” said Na Young, one of the LGBTI activists protesting against the ministry and the committee.
Rep. You Seung-hee’s office denied the accusations.
“The chairwoman of the committee cannot finalize the list of witnesses by herself,” said Kim In-ah from Rep. Yoo’s office. “It’s untrue that Rep. You denied their entry.”
Women and human rights’ activists have been demanding the ministry recognize and validate LGBTI rights as a gender issue, while the ministry has said the rights of sexual minorities are irrelevant to the Gender Equality Act. It instead explained that the issue falls under the Human Rights Commission and the National Human Rights Commission Act.
The activists tried to hand deliver a letter to Gender Minister Kim Hee-jung after the audit session. As the minister refused to accept it, Kim’s secretary accepted it instead.
The activists said they told the secretary that the particular incident involving the Gender Ministry and the gender equality charter of Daejeon will be addressed at a meeting with U.N. Women’s Policy Director Dr. Purna Sen in New York later this month.
By Claire Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org