More coverage on the issue of Gay rights

The story about Same-Sex marriage made it into the several newspapers

Korea’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Wednesday said it turned down a petition by a British man to recognize his marriage to a Korean man, which was granted in Britain.

“The NHRC has no official position on same-sex marriage,” a commission official said after announcing that the petition was dismissed on Feb. 11. “The decision to deny the request was based on an understanding that such a legal-related issue would first need to be reviewed at a policy level.”

The petition was submitted in 2017 by a 35-year-old British citizen, Simon Hunter-Williams, who asked that his marriage to a Korean man be legally acknowledged by Seoul since they married in the United Kingdom, where same-sex marriage is legal. Hunter-Williams made the request in order to obtain a marriage-based Korean residence (F-6) visa based on his relationship with the Korean citizen.

Same-sex marriage currently has no legal status in Korea, where a largely conservative public remains a barrier to its social acceptance.

The NHRC official stressed that the rejection of the request was not a denial of the validity of same-sex marriage, but the petition was beyond their jurisdiction as there is no legal basis for the matter. For Hunter-Williams to be granted a marriage visa, there would first need to be a change in the legal interpretation of marriage as a result of a “society-wide agreement,” the official added.

According to the official, however, the NHRC opposed any discrimination based on sexual orientation in terms of employment or property ownership.

In addition to his petition to the NHRC, Hunter-Williams had also submitted a similar appeal to President Moon Jae-in last year, but the Justice Ministry declined to review this request.

While this case is the first case submitted in Korea by a couple legally married in another country, activists have long tried to legalize same-sex marriage.

The most well-known of these was led by film director Kim-Jho Kwang-soo, who married another man at a ceremony in 2013 and filed a lawsuit in 2015 asking for legal recognition. Both a district and appeals court ruled against the couple in 2016, citing a lack of legislation.

Most politicians, for their part, have either opposed or remain reluctant to voice support for gay rights, largely due to vocal opposition from conservative members of society.

Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon of the ruling Democratic Party (DP) stood out as an exception, saying in 2014 that he hoped Korea could be the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage. Several DP lawmakers submitted a bill in 2014 that would grant a form of legal acceptance for such unions in the form of a “life partnership,” but the bill failed to pass the National Assembly.

Nonetheless, there is growing social acceptance of same-sex marriage from society at large. According to a poll from 2017, 34 percent of respondents – and 66 percent of those in their 20s – said they supported same sex marriage, almost double the number in a similar poll from 2001.

BY SHIM KYU-SEOK [shim.kyuseok@joongang.co.kr]

 

C’est comment être gai… en Corée du Sud?

AVEC SIMON HUNTER-WILLIAMS

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En juillet 2017, près de 85 000 personnes ont participé à la Pride dans les rues de Séoul, une augmentation de 25 000 personnes par rapport à l’année précédente. Ceci dit, lors d’un sondage mené en décembre 2017, on découvrait que 52% des Sud-Coréens s’opposent toujours au mariage gai. La situation de la communauté LGBT est donc loin d’être rose, comme en témoigne l’expérience de Simon Hunter-Williams, un Anglais de 33 ans qui est marié un Sud-Coréen et vécu en Corée du Sud pendant sept ans.

Très souvent, il a entendu que les gais n’étaient pas les bienvenus en Corée. «Plusieurs expatriés m’ont fait part de problèmes qu’ils vivaient parce qu’ils étaient ouvertement LGBT. Personnellement, j’ai surtout vécu des expériences de discrimination avec des Coréens chrétiens, ceux qui tentent d’influencer le système démocratique et qui utilisent leur argent pour influencer certaines décisions politiques», explique Simon. Militant pour la cause LGBT durant ses années en Corée, il se souvient d’une discussion troublante avec l’organisation nationale des droits humains. «On m’a expliqué que les gais n’ont aucun droit humain parce qu’ils ne font pas partie de la population. D’autres affirmaient même que les homosexuels n’existaient pas en Corée…»
Pourtant, il existe des homosexuels… et de l’homophobie. «Lors de ma première date avec un Coréen, il y a six ans, nous sommes allés dans un restaurant et les propriétaires nous ont demandé de quitter, parce que plusieurs clients ne se sentaient pas confortables en présence d’homosexuels.» De surcroît, les insultes, les attaques et les gestes déplacés sont rarement pris au sérieux. «Un jour, un homme m’a caressé le postérieur dans le métro, et quand j’ai rapporté l’incident à la police, on m’a répondu qu’ils recevaient plusieurs plaintes semblables, mais comme il s’agissait d’un problème entre deux hommes, ils ne feraient rien…» Les lois ne sont pas plus réjouissantes: l’homosexualité est légale en Corée du Sud, mais elle est qualifiée de «harcèlement sexuel» dans le code pénal militaire. «Certains ex-soldats de l’armée coréenne ont quitté le pays ou se sont suicidés en raison d’expériences traumatisantes. J’ai aussi lu que l’armée coréenne utilisait des applications de rencontres pour arrêter des soldats. Il y a eu une grande couverture médiatique sur ce dossier à Séoul.»
Pas surprenant que le dossier du mariage gai progresse lentement. Simon et son amoureux ont essayé d’enregistrer leur mariage en Corée, mais sans succès. «Un professionnel de la Cour suprême nous a répondu que la Corée était un état chrétien et qu’il valait mieux que nous quittions le pays. Le bureau de l’Immigration m’a suggéré d’officialiser mon mariage dans l’un des bureaux régionaux, afin d’obtenir un visa en tant qu’époux, mais quand je m’y suis rendu, les employés riaient de moi ou me disaient de quitter le pays.»
Inévitablement, les murs auxquels Simon s’est frappé ont miné son moral. «C’est triste à dire, mais je crois que le changement va arriver seulement quand une personne LGBT sera assassinée par un extrémiste ou si un autre drame majeur survient. Dans un pays aussi conservateur, s’afficher en tant qu’homosexuel peut encore faire perdre un emploi, mener à l’intimidation ou à l’exclusion.»
Pourtant, il décrit Séoul comme une ville très gaie. «Il y a énormément de bars gais, beaucoup plus que l’on ne peut l’imaginer. La communauté LGBT est bien servie de ce côté, particulièrement dans les secteurs Jongno, Itaweon, Hongik et Hyewha. Il faut dire aussi que les jeunes Coréens sont de plus en plus ouverts à la communauté.»



 

Take a look here

NEW CHAPTER: VANCITY

 

The last couple of months were very busy, my husband and I moved from our home for the past year in Jamsil to an AirBnB and then to the in-laws. Living out of suitcases, working, catching-up with friends and saying ‘see you soon’ to friends old and new.

In February, we landed in Canada as new PR Residents after a very unexpected change and now we are finding our feet in Canada. We’ve explored the city as much as you can in a short space (say, 8 days!) and even managed to find our new home in downtown, get our paperwork sorted (SIN, cell phone, banking and await the PR card).

Now we’ve got only a few more days in AirBNB before the actual move and concluded that Canadians are insanely friendly, welcoming folks, very helpful and have a neat sense of humour.

Unlike Korea, we can find foods from Korea and the UK all at a good price whereas Korea, foreign food (say British in this case) often over priced and we are shocked by how cheap so many other things can get – if you compare to Korea.

Korea shares first place with China, as my personal favorite place.. can Canada grab that title. Let us see!

It certainly offers some incredible views!

 

 

 

Exploring the world of vegan,

My October plan is to try engage with my body, make it more healthy, start to get fitter as the winter is around the corner and many a new adventure seems to be on the horizon. I think it is an an important goal.

My latest finds include a few of Seoul’s very hip veggie eateries including:

Plant Cafe (Itaewon), Vegetable (Sinsa) and So-Iroum.

Here a few pictures:

Vegetable: 서울 강남구 가남대로162길41-22 오로라빌1층

(below) from my visit to PlantCafe http://www.plantcafeseoul.com

Seolleung and Jeongneung

It took me nearly six years to be in the right place and the right weather to finally explore the memorial park in the heart of Gangnam, known as Seolleung and Jeongneung.

A UNESCO site that houses the Royal Tomb of King Seongjong and Queen Jeonghyeon (Seolleung) and The Royal Tomb of King Jungjong (Jeongneung).

The site is not only the Royal Tomb but a home to a lot of nature waiting to say ‘hi!’

Please visit this site at the heart of Gangnam, it costs only 1000W.

VisitKorea 

Address

1, Seolleung-ro 100-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
서울특별시 강남구 선릉로100길 1 (삼성동)

Buzzing Busan

Perfect place to take a long weekend, Busan.

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Busan Museum of Art

Explore Busan Museum of Art in 2015, a walk down memory lane because art is beautiful whatever date!

Snapshots of the Seoul Cartoon Fest

Seoul hosts annually ‘The Seoul International Cartoon and Animation Festival‘ (SICAF) at the world renowned ‘COEX’ located at Starfield COEX in the heart of Gangnam, next to the City Airport Terminal and a short ride to Jamsil.

Exploring the awesome Starfield Goyang

The latest mastermind of the Shinsegae  is Starfield Goyang which includes a handful of international brands, a long list of amazing Korean brands and even a fantastic new spa. I would highly recommend a visit and it is easy to get to (address: 경기도 고양시 덕양구 고양대로 1955)

Exploring Jerusalem

Was great to be back in Jerusalem, I lived in the city when I worked at The Jerusalem Post.

It was awesome to be back, I love this city so much, it’s like my second or third home.. depends how you look at i