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New Zealand’s gay ambassador to South Korea just made history by visiting Blue House with his husband

Lily Wakefield October 26, 2019
President Moon Jae-in of South Korea and his wife Kim Jung-sook, meet New Zealand ambassador Philip Turner and his husband Hiroshi Ikeda

President Moon Jae-in of South Korea and his wife Kim Jung-sook, meet New Zealand ambassador Philip Turner and his husband Hiroshi Ikeda. (Philip Turner/ Twitter)

The gay New Zealand ambassador to South Korea has made history as the first foreign diplomat to visit Blue House with a same-sex partner.

Blue House is the official residence of President Moon Jae-in of South Korea and his wife Kim Jung-sook, and ambassador Philip Turner visited with his husband Hiroshi Ikeda to attend a reception for diplomats.

Turner posted pictures of the historic moment on Twitter, and wrote: “A great honour to meet President Moon and First Lady today with my husband Hiroshi.

“Thanks to President Moon first time this has been possible in Korea.”

According to Korean site Hankyoreh, an attorney for the Korean Network for Partnership and Marriage Rights of LGBT said the South Korean president’s acknowledgement of a same-sex spouse was “late in coming but welcome”.

However, while LGBT+ activists recognise the moment as progress, they said South Korean citizens are still waiting for protection from anti-LGBT+ discrimination.

Lee Jong-geol, executive committee director of Rainbow Action Against Sexual Minority Discrimination, voiced a collective frustration and told Hankyoreh: “There have been zero plans for concrete action to enact anti-discrimination legislation that would address the matters of hatred and discrimination faced by LGBT people.”

Candy, an executive committee member of Rainbow action, also said: “There will be more diplomats with same-sex partners.

“What is the standard for distinguishing between them and our own citizens?

“I believe that even this change starting in diplomacy is part of a clear direction in state policy, and I expect that to be reflected in domestic policies to come.”

While there is no longer a law criminalising gay sex for civilians in South Korea and LGBT+ people are becoming increasingly visible, soldiers can still be arrested for homosexuality and being gay is a huge taboo in the country.

Last month, a young, gay man in the country revealed the abuse he received because of his sexuality, including being fired and made homeless.

 

More: ambassador, LGBT rights, New Zealand, philip turner, South Korea

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