One of the most powerful countries in the world has elected an anti-gay president
One of the most powerful countries in the world has reportedly elected a man who says he opposes homosexuality to be president.
Voters in South Korea, the eleventh richest nation on earth, have seemingly handed a sizeable victory to Moon Jae-in, a former human rights lawyer.
Exit polls conducted jointly by three TV stations have indicated a win for Moon, the liberal candidate, over conservative nominee Hong Joon-pyo by 41.4 percent to 23.3 percent.
Moon, who has consistently held a lead over his rivals throughout the campaign, was asked during a live televised election debate two weeks ago whether he was against homosexuality.
“I oppose,” Moon said.
When asked again to clarify whether he positioned himself against homosexuality, Moon replied: “Of course.”
He also agreed with Hong that the presence of gay soldiers was weakening the military.
And he emphasised his opposition to same-sex marriage during the debate.
Same-sex marriage is illegal in South Korea.
Last year, judges rejected a lawsuit filed by a prominent gay film director and his partner seeking legal status for their same-sex marriage.
And last month, General Jang Jun-kyu, the army chief of staff, launched a “track-down process” to find and out suspected gay people in the military, according to the Military Human Rights Center for Korea.
The campaign group said this included setting up fake profiles on dating apps to track down soldiers and expose them.
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The process is thought to have identified 50 soldiers, 20 of whom now face charges under the country’s military anti-homosexuality laws.
Later in the debate, Moon said – confusingly – that he opposed “discrimination based on homosexuality”.
“Moon needs to offer an apology and a correction of his comments made on live television,” said Jung Yol, a gay rights activist.
“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?”
A total of 13 people were detained following the protests, with some dragged away, according to LGBT rights group Solidarity for LGBT Human Rights of Korea.