South Korea to reconsider ban on gay soldiers
South Korea is to reconsider its stance on gay soldiers.
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.
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.
Now it is understood that government officials are drawing up a human rights document to make their policy clearer.
It plans to submit the document to the United Nations at the end of this month.
However the government has suggested it won’t go as far as to allow openly gay soldiers.
“In a given circumstance where only men stay together, the law is necessary to keep order,” the government said.
“Punishment of gay soldiers also serves this purpose.”
One of the 32 men known to have been arrested since 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.
According to reports on the Yonhap News Agency, the sex was in a private residence and consensual.
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.