Korea reviews law banning homosexual activity in military
Review seeks to clarify laws and government insists not all gay soldiers will be punished
By Kim Se-jeong
After a gay soldier was convicted of having sex with another gay soldier in May, the Korean government said it’s reviewing its military law banning homosexual activity.
The government is working on a human rights report it will submit to the United Nations that states, “We are reviewing the law so it will make the rules clearer for gay soldiers,” adding that not all gay soldiers will be punished just for homosexual activity. The report will be submitted to the U.N. human rights body later this month.
Yet, it defended the law’s fundamental purpose: “In a given circumstance where only men stay together, the law is necessary to keep order. Punishment of gay soldiers also serves this purpose.”
In May, the military court sentenced an Army captain to six months in prison, and suspended him for a year, for homosexual activity. According to the Military Criminal Act, sodomy can be punished with up to two years in prison.
The conviction came amid a revelation that the military orchestrated efforts to hunt down gay soldiers and humiliate them openly, which rights activists called human rights violations.
Rights violations for gay soldiers in Korea have been noted by other countries, which officially recommended Korea in 2012 to improve the situation through the U.N. peer review session. The national report is in response to that recommendation.