SOUTH KOREA.Seoul: South Korea’s capital city, Seoul, witnessed the celebration of its first Pride Parade in nearly 3 years with thousands of citizens taking part in an LGBT festival downtown.
State media Yonhap news agency reported that nearly 13,000 people showed up at the ‘Seoul Queer Culture Festival’.
Philip Goldberg, the US Ambassador to South Korea also attended the gig to express solidarity with the LGBT community. He told the crowd, “To express the strong commitment of the United States to ending discrimination wherever it occurs and ensuring that everyone is treated with respect and humanity, we simply cannot leave any of you behind.”
He added, “We’re going to fight with you for equality and human rights.”
Meanwhile, British ambassador Colin Crooks said, practising “discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity has no place in the 21st century.” He also added that bearing in mind Britain’s history of discrimination against sexual minorities, South Korea must legitimise a similar “system of legal protection”. He was lauded for his speech which he delivered in Korean.
To counteract the throngs of rainbow flags downtown, the other side of the fence showed a protest rally by Christians and conservative groups of around 15,000 people, as reported by Yonhap.
To divert any physical confrontations between the two factions in the conservative locale, the police were on high alert as church-backed counter-protesters rallied in nearby streets. Kim Man-Seok, an official at Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, told Reuters that thousands of police officers from nearly 60 units were dispatched to watch the two groups from both sides.
While South Korea has a long history of queers being exposed to discrimination, hate speech and sexual crimes, in recent years, things have started to look up as views have started to change for the better.