Students are getting themselves arrested to support gay soldiers
Student activists are trying to get themselves arrested in an effort to support persecuted soldiers.
Students have begun brandishing “Arrest me, too” signs on university campuses across South Korea following the reported arrests of gay and bi serving soldiers.
According to campaign group the Military Human Rights Center for Korea (MHRCK), General Jang Jun-kyu, army chief of staff in South Korea launched a “track-down process” to find and out suspected gay personnel.
This included setting up fake profiles on dating apps to track down soldiers and expose them.
The process is thought to have identified 50 soldiers, 20 of whom now face charges under the country’s military anti-homosexuality laws.
A poster appeared at one South Korean institution, Sungshin Women’s University, reading: “If gay soldiers are criminals, then the women’s university campus couple were also criminals. So arrest us, too.”
Another poster at Silla University says: “I’ve had to listen to the presidential candidate who is likely to win the election saying, ‘I don’t support homosexuality, but it shouldn’t be punished. But I won’t enact anti-discrimination legislation.’
“Meanwhile, activists who travelled there to get an apology were arrested.”
Although same-sex sexual activity is not illegal in the country, the army retains a code of conduct that bans homosexuality, and military service is mandatory.
Under South Korean law a soldier who commits “sodomy” or “other disgraceful conduct” can face up to two years in prison.
The country’s presidential front-runner, Moon Jae-in, a former human rights lawyer, shocked supporters when he declared that he is opposed to homosexuality.
“I oppose,” Mr Jae-in said, when asked his view on homosexuality, Associated Press has reported.
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Jung Yol, a gay rights activist, said: “Moon needs to offer an apology and a correction of his comments made on live television.”
“What he said was clearly hate speech, and since he is the candidate favoured to win the election, his words can influence how people think.”
After Moon made the comments, LGBT rights protesters showed up with rainbow flags at the candidate’s campaign event in the capital, Seoul.
They shouted: “Apologise for the hate speech!” and asked him: “Are you opposing my own existence?”
13 people were detained following the protests, with some dragged away, according to LGBT rights group Solidarity for LGBT Human Rights of Korea.