Plans to drop sexual orientation from a proposed bill on anti-discrimination in South Korea have been met with disappointment from LGBT organisations all over the world.
The bill, the first of its kind in the country was announced in October.
According to news reports and members from the ruling Democratic Labour Party, sexual orientation has since been removed from the draft along with other categories such as ideologies, appearance and military status.
International human rights law is clear that discrimination based on sexual orientation is prohibited, and South Korea’s treaty obligations require it to enforce that prohibition.
A coalition of 40 LGBT groups in South Korea, called the Alliance Against Homophobia and Discrimination Against Sexual Minorities, is asking for a coordinated international response to stop the most recent draft of the anti-discrimination legislation from going before the National Assembly.
Hahn Chae Yoon, director of the alliance, has claimed the move was due to an upcoming presidential election.
Speaking to the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights commission she said:
“They have been in power for five years and have a low approval rating.
“The Christian right is connected to big businesses. They are using the anti-discrimination law as an opportunity to say ‘What a ridiculous law they are trying to pass.’”
Jessica Stern, researcher in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trangender programme of Human Rights Watch said:
“The current version of the bill is a disappointment. A supposed landmark non-discrimination law has been hollowed out to exclude Koreans, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, who are in need of protection.
“The government should maintain its track record and reintroduce comprehensive categories for protection.”
South Korea has previously demonstrated international leadership on LGBT rights.
At a recent session of the United Nations Human Rights Council South Korea, along with 53 other nations, delivered a statement recognizing the abundance of evidence of human rights violations on the basis of sexual orientation and calling on the UN to give these issues attention.