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Homosexuality in military emerges as a hot potato

Posted September. 19, 2017 07:36,   

Updated September. 19, 2017 08:31


Homosexual activities in South Korean military have increased in the recent five years. According to the report the Defense Ministry submitted to Liberty Korea Party lawmaker Kim Hak-yong’s office, the number of consensual sexual assaults between soldiers of the same gender increased to 21 cases in the first half of this year from two in 2013. It is a 20-fold increase of same-sex assaults in the military given remaining period by the end of this year. Under the Military Criminal Act in South Korea, homosexual activity is banned and classified as an assault.

It turns out that soldiers’ homosexual activities are mostly occurred in military camps as they cannot go out or sleep out freely. In July 2015, military authorities found soldiers engaging in a similar sexual intercourse in the barrack during bedtime.

“Concerns over rapidly spreading homosexuality in military base are raised as they may hinder discipline and combat readiness of soldiers,” said the lawmaker. “Explicit sexual activity or expression‎ of affection can lead to a crime of passion.”

Another concern is that indiscreet sexual relations can cause sexually transmitted diseases. According to the Defense Ministry, the number of AIDS cases amounted to 21 cases as of July 31 this year, comparing to 26 in 2013. Syphilis also reported 71 cases for the first seven months of this year, comparing to 71 in 2013.

Lifting ban on gay soldiers is also a hot potato in our society to the extent that it becomes a controversial issue in confirmation hearings for Constitutional Court Justice nominee Kim Yi-su and Supreme Court’s Chief Justice nominee Kim Myung-soo. Justice Party lawmaker Kim Jong-dae introduced a revised bill of the military penal code to repeal the provision of punishing homosexual activity in May on the ground that it violates the right to determine sexual orientation and there is no proof that homosexuality harms discipline and combat readiness.

Against this backdrop, many Christian churches oppose lifting the ban on gay soldiers. “There will certainly be innocent victims as the military is a hierarchical society and soldiers cannot stand against the order of their superiors,” they claims. “Men in the enlistment age will increasingly try to dodge the military service.”

Hoon-Sang Park tigermask@donga.com