People march in downtown Seoul during the Korea Queer Culture Festival, Saturday. Yonhap
‘There is no later. We change it now'
Gay parade gains traction as anti-discrimination movement
By Lee Kyung-min
Participants of this year's queer festival united as one, calling for equality and seeking to elevate the country's level of human rights standards by abolishing discrimination.
The 18th Korea Queer Culture Festival (KQCF), held in Seoul Plaza, Saturday, had more than 100 booths, run by human rights groups, embassies, companies and university clubs that support sexual minorities referred to as LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender). The event was attended by more than 70,000 people, the most ever for the annual event, according to the event organizer. The organizer will also screen queer films on Thursday for four days.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the first government agency to have participated in the annual event, said it would also attend next year's event.
The human rights watchdog said it would increase efforts to tackle the spread of misinformation about false associations between homosexuality and HIV AIDS. The false claim is the primary basis for far-right Christian groups for opposing homosexuality, while data identifies "unprotected sex" as the cause of infection.
Embassies of the U.S., France, Germany, Canada, Austria, Sweden and Finland voiced their support for the annual event for increasing awareness of the human rights issue.
Some religious groups including Christians and Buddhists attended the weekend parade, saying their religion teaches love and understanding. Persecution of, or discrimination against any particular group is not a correct interpretation of the words of religious figures, they added.
Officials of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism said the event is significant as it provides an outlet for society's most suppressed voices.
Discrimination on the basis of outward appearance, according to an official of the group, is only a shallow attempt that fails to recognize the true beauty of a person.
At a booth set up with a banner saying, "The world without discrimination is the world of Buddha," Jogye officials welcomed LGBT groups to talk about their hardships.
A group of progressive Christians also said the Bible has multiple clauses against discrimination.
"The Bible teaches us to love and show compassion to each other," a pastor was quoted as saying according to Yonhap News Agency. "In God, we are one. We should not persecute any particular group because that is against the teaching of God."
Meanwhile, far-right Christian groups held a protest claiming homosexuality is a disease that requires treatment.
The groups said society should eliminate promiscuous and depraved sexual activities because Korea is a Confucian country known for its politeness and high moral standards.
They said they would not tolerate Western countries' attempts to normalize or even glorify what they see as a sexually deviant act of a minority.