Rev. Lee Dong-hwan (center) stands with his supporters after Friday’s trial. (Facebook)
The Korean Methodist Church put Rev. Lee Dong-hwan of Glory Jeil Church on trial Friday for giving a blessing to sexual minorities during a queer festival in August 2019.
The case marks the first time a person is being tried by the Korean Methodist Church for supporting homosexuality. The church doctrine states “Violating laws regarding drugs and performing activities supporting or agreeing with gambling or homosexuality” are punishable.
Lee participated in a queer festival in Incheon on Aug. 31, 2019, where he held a blessing ceremony for sexual minorities.
“The problem is that he participated in a queer festival, and that already violates the doctrine. On the basis of these two facts, the Qualification Judging Committee brought the issue to the Judging Committee,” said Rev. Kim Moon-jo on Friday.
Rev. Lee’s lawyers claimed that he did not explicitly agree or support homosexuality during the event and only said prayers of blessing. Also, they stated that Rev. Lee is known for giving many blessings -- not only to sexual minorities but also laid-off workers as well -- and brought a laid-off worker as a witness.
However, the church claimed Lee’s agreement and support of homosexuality was implied in his actions. It also questioned Lee’s wearing of a rainbow-colored stole during the event.
The first trial, during which Rev. Lee presented his defense, lasted an hour, according to media reports. With the spread of COVID-19, the size of the trial was reduced, limiting the number of lawyers and people in attendance.
A second trial will take place next Friday with the verdict to be announced the following week, according to Judging Committee Chairman Hong Sung-kook.
By Lim Jang-won (email@example.com