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NHRC Sparks Controversy on Definition of Homosexuality

Posted April. 02, 2003 22:24,   


The National Human Rights Commission of Korea expressed its view on homosexuality saying it is just a matter of sexual orientation, a remark most likely to spark controversy.

The commission recommended on April 2 to chairperson of the Commission of Youth Protection that "homosexuality" be deleted from Article 7 of the Enforcement Decree of the Juvenile Protection Act, which stipulates homosexuality as being harmful to young people.

NHRC said that discriminatory definitions of homosexuality and blocking youth access violate Article 10 (right to pursue happiness), Article 11 (right to equality) and Article 21 (freedom of expression) of the Constitution.

The standard of harm on Article 7 of the Enforcement Decree of the Juvenile Protection Act (hereafter JPA) is defined as "things promoting perverted sexual acts such as bestiality, group sex, incest, homosexuality, sado-masochism; prostitution; and sexual relations not approved by commonly accepted social standards."

"It seems that KHCR`s decision is in line with the law but not with the public sentiment," said Bae Jong-dae, law professor at Korean University, of the commission`s definition of homosexuality.

"In South Korea, there is a growing awareness of the need to regard homosexuality as normal sexual orientation and protect the human rights of gays and lesbians," said an official at NHRC. In addition, "Sex Education Guidebook for Teachers" published by the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development states, “homosexuality also is a human way of life as well as a form of affection”(for middle school), and “homosexuality is no longer classified as sexual perversion”(for high school).

Lesbian and Gay Human Rights Federation earlier filed two petitions against the chairperson of the Commission on Youth Protection claiming, "listing "homosexuality" as the standard of harm for youth in the Enforcement Decree of the Juvenile Protection Act is a violation of human rights due to sexual orientation."

Hyo-Lim Son aryssong@donga.com