The first ever drag parade in South Korea has been hailed as “a huge milestone” by activists.
Dozens attended the march through the nation’s capital on May 26, spreading awareness and making a public stand.
Last year’s pride in the same city attracted a record turnout of around 85,000, but for those taking part on Saturday, this was just as important.
LGBT rights are still a work in progress in South Korea, as they are in many Asian nations. Homosexuality is legal, but same-sex marriage and adoption remains banned, while protections against discrimination are limited.
Last year, voters in the eleventh-richest nation on earth elected Moon Jae-in, a former human rights lawyer who said during his campaign that he opposed homosexuality.
Yang Heezy, one of the organisers of the Seoul Drag Parade, said: “When it comes to South Korea, human rights guarantees for sexual minorities are insufficient,” according to AFP.
The drag queen, who was wearing a bright red wig and floral dress, said that events like this one would reduce ignorance in the country.
“Today’s drag parade and more queer culture festivals should take place to bring attention to sexual minorities and help those who are not from those minorities learn more,” said Heezy.
Another member of the parade, whose drag name was Lola Bank, said their presence on the streets of Seoul was a moment to cherish.
“The fact that we are able to be in public in drag is a huge milestone to queer acceptance in Korea,” Lola said.
“I’ve always struggled with my masculinity and my femininity. And when I get in drag I’m saying kind of like a ‘f**k you’ to society’s expectations of how I should behave as a male.”
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Unlike during the city’s pride parades, there was no evangelical counter-protest with signs like “Homosexuality is Sin! Return to Jesus!”
Lee Hyang-soon, a local street vendor, smiled and waved at marchers, calling the parade “really cool.”
She added: “Seeing all the foreigners join in, it feels like Korea is becoming world famous
“I’m happy. It’s fabulous.”
Last year, judges in the country rejected a lawsuit filed by a prominent gay film director and his partner seeking legal status for their same-sex marriage.
In April 2017, 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 Centre for Korea.
The campaign group said 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.