More than 200,000 Koreans signed an online petition asking the presidential office to disallow the upcoming queer parade, which is scheduled to be held in central Seoul on Saturday.
The petition, which was first filed on June 14, asked the authorities to ban two queer events -- the upcoming parade in Seoul and another event that was held in Daegu on June 23.
“We are not discriminating against sexual minorities,” the petition reads. “But Seoul City Square belongs to all citizens.” The petitioners called the events “distasteful,” saying some of its content, displayed publicly, is “inappropriate for children.”
A group of conservative Koreans protest against homosexuality in central Seoul last month. (Chosen People Network)
Homosexuality is not illegal in Korea but is subject to social stigmatization, as it is fiercely opposed by the country’s conservative and religious sectors. There is currently no law forbidding discrimination in the country.
A number of heavyweight politicians, including current Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon and President Moon Jae-in, have faced controversies in the past over their positions on homosexuality.
While running for presidency last year, Moon enraged the local LGBTQ community by publicly remarking that he is “against” homosexuality.
Park, on the other hand, changed his position on queer rights a number of times, triggering sit-in protests by LGBTQ activists in 2014. The Seoul Metropolitan Government has allowed the annual queer festival to take place at Seoul City Square since 2016.
Both Moon and Park worked as human rights lawyers before entering the world of politics.
The upcoming parade is part of the 19th Seoul Queer Culture Festival, which is known to be the biggest queer event of the year in Seoul. The festival kicks off Friday.
A number of religious and civic groups said they will hold anti-gay rallies Saturday, near Seoul City Square where the queer parade will take place.
The government is required to officially respond, within 30 days, when a petition gathers 200,000 signatures.
By Claire Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org