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Human Rights Body Opposes Punishing Gay Soldiers

Posted October. 28, 2010 11:15,   


A dispute over an anti-sodomy clause in the Military Penal Code has been reignited after the National Human Rights Commission of Korea called the clause unconstitutional.

The commission said Wednesday that it held a meeting of all members two days earlier to reach its conclusion on the clause.

“Clause 92 of the Military Penal Code infringes on a homosexual’s right to equality, privacy and making their own sexual decisions. It also violates the concept of ‘no crime, no punishment without law.’ We will present our opinions to the Constitutional Court,” it said.

The human rights watchdog has been reviewing the constitutionality of the clause. The matter has remained pending at the Constitutional Court since May, when a civic group supporting sexual minorities in the military filed a petition with the commission.

The military criticized the commission’s decision. A Defense Ministry official said, “Clause 92 of the Military Penal Code works for the public interest rather than personal happiness. The military has to maintain good combat capability and requires a sound life for the group. If you legalize homosexual activity in the military, order will collapse.”

Civic groups showed mixed reactions over the decision. Lim Tae-hoon, head of the Center for Military Human Rights, said, “In the U.S., there is no instance of a gay soldier being punished for homosexuality in the military. The Constitutional Court must respect the human rights commission’s decision.”

Yet a source at the Coalition for a Sound Sexual Culture said, “The judgment by the human rights commission is hard to accept given heightening tension with North Korea.”