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28 Oct 2010

Debate over gay conscripts in South Korea military

A debate is heating up in South Korea over homosexuality in the military as the country's National Human Rights Commission declares the current military code that imposes a one year jail term to be a violation of soldiers' rights.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of Korea on Monday declared that the country's military criminal code banning homosexuality infringes on gay servicemen's rights to equality, privacy and sexual preferences, the Korea Times on Wednesday. 

Under the current code, those convicted of having homosexual relations in barracks face up to one year in prison and forced retirement. 

The Times added that NHRC's position came after a gay rights group lodged a petition with the commission in May to overhaul the military code that could be seen as discriminatory against homosexual servicemen. The Constitutional Court is also reviewing the code to decide on its constitutionality. The review is in response to a military court’s 2008 request to rule if the homosexual ban is in line with the Constitution.

Media reports cited data from the Ministry of National Defense that while there were 176 cases related cases in the military between 2004 and 2007 only four of the cases were involved consensual homosexual acts. Soldiers in three of the four cases were convicted of violating the code.

Military officials have reportedly expressed displeasure over the NHRC decision saying that the removal of the current code could encourage same-sex relationships in the military.

An editorial in the Times noted that the NHRC's position on the matter "marks the first time that a government agency or a state-affiliated commission has taken a liberal stance on the sensitive issue." The further urged Korean society to "become more open and embrace minorities, including those having different sexual orientation."

"Homosexuals are also members of our society and all physically and mentally healthy men are subject to military conscription regardless of their sexual preferences. Therefore, it would be better for the military to eliminate discrimination against gay soldiers. We hope that the court will make a wise decision," the editorial concluded.

South Korea has a mainly conscript military of 655,000. 

Although homosexuality is not a crime under the civilian legal code, it is said to be considered an absolute social taboo.

Korea (South)

Reader's Comments

1. 2010-10-28 15:54  
The sadly much maligned Israelis have no problem having homosexual and woman soldiers I don't hear any negative commentary in regards to their being more liberal in this area, Gay & Woman Israeli soldiers defend their struggling nations defence with as much aplomb as their male heterosexual soldiers , The USA and the Koreans need to grow up, a homosexual soldier is no less likely to be a supreme killing machine than a heterosexual, the arguement of soldiers bonking in the barracks is just some cheap porn fantasy that is not likely to eventuate as these men are professional soldiers and would know better
2. 2010-10-29 11:11  
Gay men are here to stay and stay always. They are Americans. They are Koreans.
3. 2010-11-04 01:28  
Is this website brave enough to lead the world forward to champion and release by every country, politcians, leaders, statesman, industry and celebrities (the latter, if we have to read about them again) and make the global community realise that being "gay" is not a choice. There are many fine people in the world and private lives are not a tabloid or boardroom issue. Thank You
4. 2011-02-06 05:55  
#1 aztlan_oz: "The sadly much maligned Israelis..." Indeed!
As for the U.S & Korean politicians growing up however...ahem, no comment. :p

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