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Amnesty International has condemned efforts by South Korea to drop LGBTQ protections.
Conservative members of the South Korea National Assembly proposed amendments to the National Human Rights Act of Korea that would remove protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and stop recognizing gender identities different from those assigned at birth, according to The Guardian.
Ahn Sang-soo of the Liberty Korea party said he has the backing of 40 MPs in the 300-member national assembly who believe protections against discrimination for LGBTQ individuals "legally and actively protects and promotes homosexuality."
He also forwarded an argument akin to so-called religious freedom claims in the United States, and said preventing discrimination against gay and transgender people in itself was an act of discrimination against Christians.
But human rights activists decried Ahn's amendment as a step backward.
"This attempted amendment would rob lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people of vital legal protections," said Suki Chung, Asia-Pacific LGBTI rights campaigner at Amnesty International. "It denies them equal treatment and puts them at risk of discrimination."
She said the legislation was an attempt to push more LGBTQ individuals into closeted lives of secrecy.
"If this amendment passes it will be a shameful step backwards for human rights in South Korea. It would also send a chilling signal to other countries, especially other Asian countries where LGBTI-related laws are being debated," she said.
"Around the world LGBTI people are bravely challenging discriminatory legislation and campaigning for equal rights for all. We urge members of the South Korean National Assembly to reject this bill and uphold laws that keep all citizens equal and safe."