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South Korea eases restrictions on homosexuality

South Korea eases restrictions on homosexuality

In a largely symbolic move, South Korea said Wednesday it plans to remove homosexuality from a list of "socially unacceptable sexual acts" that are harmful to youth. The government decision, which is subject to public debate before becoming official, marks a victory for gay rights groups that have called on the government to revise regulations deemed biased against gay men and lesbians. Currently, homosexuality is on a list of sexual acts that the government deems "socially unacceptable," along with group sex, incest, bestiality, prostitution, and sadism. The government limits the distribution of books, movies, and Internet sites containing these acts, saying they are harmful to youth. On Wednesday the government's Commission on Youth Protection said it planned to remove homosexuality from the list. Advocates for gay rights have argued that the regulation should be revised, saying it promotes prejudice among youths. The commission said it plans to revise the regulation by April after hosting public hearings on the issue. South Korea does not outlaw homosexuality, and several gay bars operate in Seoul. But until recently the gay rights movement had been virtually nonexistent in South Korea, where discussing homosexuality was taboo. A small group of gay men and lesbians have begun networking through Web sites since a few students publicly admitted their homosexuality in the early 1990s.

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