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LGBT Activists Protest at Seoul City Hall Over Delay of Human Rights Charter

LGBT Activists Protest at Seoul City Hall Over Delay of Human Rights Charter

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The city dropped plans to adopt a new human rights charter after church groups objected to the inclusion of protections for LGBT people.

Activists in South Korea staged sit-ins at Seoul City Hall Saturday, protesting the city government's decision to delay adopting an LGBT-inclusive municipal human rights charter, reports Pink News.

The charter was to be adopted by the Seoul Metropolitan Government Wednesday, which is Human Rights Day, and was to include a ban on discrimination based on "sexual orientation or sexual identity." However, Seoul city officials, including Mayor Park Won-soon, appear to have caved to pressure from religious groups and conservatives who objected to that language.

"The charter of human rights for Seoul citizens is supposed to be a pact created and enacted by the citizens themselves," read a statement issued by the municipal government in late November. "Unfortunately, working on this charter has been creating more social conflicts. We would like to take more time to listen to a variety of opinions from our citizens on this matter."

Adoption of the charter was delayed indefinitely.

Rainbow Action, the group protesting at City Hall, released a statement criticizing the mayor's lack of commitment to protecting LGBT citizens of Seoul from discrimination, noting that he had refused to even meet with them.

"At a meeting with Protestant pastors, Mr. Park apologized to the pastors for the 'social conflicts' caused during the process and confirmed that the Charter will not be made with inclusion of such provisions," the group's statement read. "The Mayor's denying the Charter ... is an act of discrimination by the State that does not comport with the Constitution and the National Human Rights Commission Act, as well as the international human rights law."

"We, LGBT activists and supporters, now occupied the City Hall to protest against the discrimination. Mr Park has never responded yet to our repeated requests to have a meeting. ... The Charter must be proclaimed, as is originally scheduled on December 10, 2014, Human Rights Day, in Seoul."

Korean Christianity Reigns

In October, Mayor Park told San Francisco's edition of TheExaminer that he supports LGBT equality, but that Protestant Christian churches with an opposing view are very influential in the nation.

"I personally agree with the rights of homosexuals," Park told The Examiner. "But the Protestant churches are very powerful in Korea. It isn't easy for politicians. It's in the hands of activists to expand the universal concept of human rights to include homosexuals. Once they persuade the people, the politicians will follow. It's in process now."

About one-third of South Koreans belong to a Christian church that says homosexuality is a sin, the publication notes.

A Pew Research Center study, however, indicates that South Koreans' attitudes on LGBT rights are evolving. According to a 2013 survey, 59 percent of people in the country said they find homosexuality "unacceptable," but that's down from 77 percent in 2007.

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