Annual Review 2016: Human Rights Situation of LGBTI in South Korea

12. Hate Crime

updated 2017.08.09 11:53 by sogilaw

LGBTI hate crime in gay community street

A member of an LGBTI organization was subject to verbal insults and physical violence by a passerby in Jongno Nakwon-dong, a prominent gay community area. On August 16, 2016, around 1:00AM, a gay man in his 20s “A”, who is also a member of the Korean Gay Men’s Human Rights Group Chingusai (Chingusai) and G-Voice (gay men’s chorus), was told the word “homo” and hit in the face by a male passerby in his 30s in the gay community street.[1]

The location in which the incident occurred was near Chingusai’s Jongno 3-ga office, where gay men had formed a community over the course of decades. Also, in October and November 2011, there was a series of hate crimes where three men targeted and assaulted gays and in Donhwamun-ro near Nakwon-dong. Chingusai considered this to be a typical LGBTI hate crime, and urged the firm punishment and “establishment of countermeasures with the participation of all members of society” against LGBTI hate crimes.[2]

Banners welcoming sexual minorities at universities continue to be vandalized

On 29 February 2016, the “Solidarity for Queer Liberation at Sogang University Dancing Q” (Dancing Q) put up banners reading “we support the new semester, new start of LGBTI and non-LGBTI students” in four locations on campus. However, the day after the banners were put up, one banner was found torn up and left in a trash can. Through CCTV footage, it was revealed to be a doing of a chemistry professor. Self-governing student bodies such as Dancing Q, Sogang University Feminism Society TTeulkem, etc. demanded an official explanation and apology from the professor. Although the professor admitted his guilt, he did not provide a public apology. The Sogang University Student Council and Dancing Q filed charges for damage of property against the professor to the Seoul Mapo Police Station on March 10, 2016.[3] However, in August 2016, the professor received a stay of prosecution for reasons of “having no criminal record and having sent a written apology to the students”.

Moreover, on March 22, 2016, a banner reading “We welcome all LGBTI and non-LGBTI students to Gwanak” put up by the Seoul National University Student Council and Sexual Minorities' Club in Seoul National University “QIS” near the Seoul National University beltway was found vandalized.[4] The posters and banners welcoming LGBTI students at Hanyang University, Sungkyunkwan University, Hongik University, Ewha Womans University, etc. were also lost or found damaged. The LGBTQ University Student Alliance of Korea “QUV” stated that, “vandalizing or stealing promotional material of LGBTI people is not merely a crime of destruction or larceny, but a hate crime. The hate promoted by these people is not compatible with the values of a democratic society”, and urged the immediate discontinuation of incitement to discrimination, promotion of hate, and hate crime against LGBTI people, as well as the establishment of countermeasures by school authorities.[5]

Murder and assault for “homosexual acts”

On March 7, 2016, a man was arrested in Cheonan, Chungnam for murdering a teenage girl for engaging in homosexuality with another woman. In February 2015, “A” was charged with beating to death teenage girl “B”, with whom he was shooting methamphetamine in a studio apartment in Cheonan, with a blunt object and burying her body in the front yard of a deserted house in Asan. “A” had owned a karaoke room that went out of business due to illegal operations. He said that, while under the influence of drugs, he learned that “B” was in a “homosexual relationship” with another karaoke hostess and beat her out of anger, killing her in the process.[6]

Court considers the victim’s interest in same sex as “mitigating factors” in assault case

In June 2016, a man was assaulted for coming out and expressing his interest in another man. While “A” was drinking with his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend “B”, “B” came out to and expressed his interest in “A”. After hearing these words, “A” assaulted “B” and caused injuries that took four weeks to heal completely.[7]

In relation to this incident, on September 26, 2016, the Seoul Central District Court (Judge Shin Jae-hwan) sentenced “A”, who was indicted for bodily harm, to a fine of 200 million KRW. However, in the written judgment, the court stated that it considered there to be extenuating circumstances in which “the victim verbally provoked the defendant, inducing the defendant to commit the crime on impulse”. This was criticized as “gay panic defense (demanding the reduction of a sentence claiming the defendant committed an offense in a state of panic due to the victim being homosexual)”.

[1] “‘Christian Liberal Party discriminates against minorities, unconstitutional organization’ over 3,200 people file complaint to National Human Rights Commission”, BeMinor, 5/24/2016
[2] Article 189 of Public Official Election Act, Article 27-2 of Political Funds Act
[3] Christian Liberal Party’s website front page and main policies (Retrieved on 3/29/2017)
[4] “We are recruiting complainants for a complaint to the National Human Rights Commission against the discrimination and hate spreading Christian Liberal Party!”, Rainbow Action against Sexual-Minority Discrimination (Retrieved on 3/29/2017)
[5] “Kim Moo-sung, Park Young-sun ‘anti-homosexuality’ statement on tape … Two party representatives declare surrender”, The Kyunghyang Shinmun, 3/4/2016
[6] “LGBTI organizations criticize Kim Moo-sung, Park Young-sun for hate speech”, OhmyNews, 3/3/2016
[7] Proceedings of the Health and Welfare Committee in the 2016 parliamentary inspection, 9/26/2016