A South Korean soldier has been convicted for being gay
A soldier in South Korea has been handed a prison sentence for being gay.
The soldier has received a suspended sentence for a year, after he was convicted for having sex with another male soldier.
According to reports on the Yonhap News Agency, the sex was in a private residence and consensual.
“It is a bizarre clause that only has a perpetrator, without a victim,” the Center for Military Human Rights Korea (CMHRK) said in a statement.
“The captain was fulfilling his military duty and was originally scheduled to be discharged in April.
“If he appeals the ruling he will have to stay in the military without knowing when the legal battle will be finished.”
According to reports the army captain was so shocked by the ruling he collapsed and had to be rushed to hospital.
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.
It comes after campaigners called for a witch-hunt for gay soldiers to end immediately.
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.
Kyle Knight, a researcher in the LGBT rights programme at Human Rights Watch, accused South Korea’s government of hypocrisy.
He says it the government had “consistently voted to support measures at the United Nations that call for an end to discrimination against LGBT people, but has failed to uphold those principles at home”.
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The country’s new president, Moon Jae-in, also shocked LGBT rights activists 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.
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.”
Students have begun brandishing “Arrest me, too” signs on university campuses across South Korea following the reported arrests of gay and bi serving soldiers.
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.”