“A great honour to meet President Moon and First Lady today with my husband Hiroshi. Thanks to President Moon first time this has been possible in Korea.”
The Twitter message was posted on Oct. 18 by Philip Turner, New Zealand’s ambassador to South Korea. Images in the media showing Turner becoming the first diplomat in South Korea to visit the Blue House and meet President Moon Jae-in with a same-sex spouse drew an outpouring of support from the local LGBT Community. But some critics also said it invited mockery of the current South Korean political situation where even the ruling party refuses to discuss anti-discrimination legislation.
According to accounts from government and Blue House insiders on Oct. 21, Turner’s husband Hiroshi Ikeda attended an invitational reception for diplomats at the Blue House Korea on Oct. 18, becoming the first same-sex partner to be recognised as a spouse at an official function. In the past, same-sex spouses of diplomats were not recognised as spouses according to the rules for issuance and management of identification for employees of overseas diplomatic offices in South Korea.
Ryu Min-hee, an attorney with the Korean Network for Partnership and Marriage Rights of LGBT, called the government’s forward-thinking approach “late in coming but welcome.”
“There have been many examples of [same-sex spouses of diplomats] being recognized under the laws of the dispatching country in cases like Australia, Germany, and the US where same-sex marriage was not acknowledged in the past, or in cases like India where same-sex is not recognised today,” Ryu said.
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