32 soldiers charged for being gay as South Korea continues ‘gay witch hunt’
More soldiers are being rounded up and arrested for being gay in South Korea.
The country, which is the 11th richest in the world, has been arresting gay soldiers on mass in recent months.
Army officials have been using dating apps to track down and expose the men, then arresting and charging them.
Now one of the 32 men known to have been arrested has come forward to tell his story.
The soldier, known only as Sergent A, said the experience has left him feeling “humiliated”.
He told CNN: “They knew that I would not want my identity revealed so they made me cooperate in the investigation.”
“The atmosphere was very oppressive and humiliating. I was scared,” he revealed.
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.
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.
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“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.
Campaigners called for a witch-hunt for gay soldiers to end immediately.
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”.
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 reported.