Laws

REPUBLIC OF KOREA (SOUTH)

Limited information only available for these topics

Access to Children
Adoption of Children
Age of Consent
Anti-Vilification
Artifical Insemination
Assisted Reproduction
Asylum / Refugees
Censorship
  Civil Unions
Custody of Children
Discrimination
Fostering Children
Gender Identity
Harassment
Hate Crimes
  HIV/Aids
Homosexuality
Immigration
Inheritance
In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)
Marriage
Military
  Partners
Parenting
Property
Sodomy
Transgender, Transsexual
Violence
Wrongful Death

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Asylum, Immigration, Refugees Legislation/Cases/References
1.

Courts & Tribunals

On 23 July 2017, Presiding Judge Yoon Seong-won in the 7th Administrative Panel of Seoul High Court reportedly overturned an Administrative Court ruling and ordered the Seoul office of the Korean Immigration Service to reverse the Ministry of Justice decision not to give a bisexual Ugandan, identified only as ''A'', status as a refugee. The Court found that ''A'' had met the two main hurdles for being acknowledged as a refugee, which are ''having a credible testimony'' and ''having adequate grounds for fearing persecution'' [R1.4].

On 12 July 2017, the Supreme Court reportedly overturned the Seoul High Court's ruling granting a 26-year-old Egyptian man refugee status on the ground that he would be persecuted in his home country for being homosexual. The Court said ''There is not enough evidence to acknowledge that his fear is well-grounded that he will be persecuted by the Egyptian government'', returning the case to the lower court [R1.3].

On 30 April 2013, the Seoul Administrative Court ruled in favour of a 27-year-old Ugandan woman, stating that it was highly likely that she would face persecution because of her sexual orientation if she was repatriated [R1.2].

On 03 January 2010, a South Korean court reportedly ruled that a gay man from Pakistan who fled his country for fear of being persecuted because of his sexual orientation should be granted refugee status, reversing a Justice Ministry decision [R1.1].

R1.4 theHankyoreh: Appeal court grants refugee status to bisexual Ugandan woman 24 JUN 17
R1.3 TheKoreaTimes 12 July 2017 | Kim Bo-eun Court denies Egyptian refugee status for homosexuality 12 JUL 17
R1.2 PinkNews: Court grants Ugandan lesbian refugee status after family killed due to her sexuality 01 MAY 13
R1.1 The Advocate: South Korea Grants Refugee Status to Gay Man 03 JAN 09
Censorship, Freedom of Expression, Free Speech, Right of Assembly Legislation/Cases/References
1.

Courts & Tribunals

On 16 June 2015, a court in Seoul ruled police acted contrary to the law when they banned a Pride parade scheduled for 28 June, violating the right of LGBTI activists to protest. The Court said 'Unless there is a clear risk of danger to the public, preventing the demonstration is not allowed and should be the absolute last resort' [R1.2].

On 16 November 2013, the Supreme Court was reported to have deemed a gay romance film fit for people 15-and-over, downgrading it from an adults-only rating and overturning a Korea Media Rating Board decision that it was not fit for teenagers of any age to watch [R1.1].

R1.2 GayStarNews:Korea court rules police cannot ban Pride 17 JUN 15
R1.1 GayStarNews: South Korea court overturns adults-only rating for gay kiss film 16 NOV 13
Discrimination Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

In November 2002, the National Human Rights Commission has announced that discriminatory and disparaging definitions of homosexuality will disappear from the dictionaries of Korea as a consequence of a petition by homosexual rights organizations [R1.2].


The 2001 National Human Rights Law bans discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation [R1.1].

2.

Cities & Towns:

On 19 December 2011, the Seoul Student Rights Ordinance (effective from March 2012) with all its sexual orientation and gender identity-related (SOGI) clauses was passed by the Seoul Metropolitan Council with 54 votes in favour, 28 against, and 4 abstentions [R2.1].

According to the Korea Herald, Seoul is the third municipality to pass a students' rights ordinance after Gyeonggi Province and Gwangju in South Jeolla Province [R2.1].

3.

Courts & Tribunals:

In January 2002, CNN.com reported that homosexual rights advocates in South Korea had filed a lawsuit against the government for blocking access to the nations first Web site for lesbians and gays [R3.1].

R1.2 JoongAng Ilbo: Homosexuals 'Perverts' No More 16 NOV 02
R1.1 Korean Herald: Korean Homosexuals Struggle with Barriers 14 OCT 02
R2.1 fridæ: Seoul Student Rights Ordinance passes with sexual orientation, gender identity protections 20 DEC 11
R3.1 CNN.com: Lawsuit Filed Over Gay Korean Web Site 12 JAN 02
IGLHRC: Censorship of Gay and Lesbian Internet Sites Takes Effect: Protest Bigotry and Silence 07 JAN 02
Gender Identity, Intersex,
Transgender, Transexual

[?]
Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

In August 2008, an opposition MP in South Korea proposed new legislation that would extend the definition of a rape victim to include men and transsexuals [R1.1].

2.

Courts & Tribunals

On 15 March 2013, the Seoul Western District Court ruled that persons who are transgender and have had their internal reproductive organs removed are now not required to undergo surgery to alter the appearance of their external sexual organs to be legally recognised as their prefered gender, accepting requests from five female-to-male transgender individuals to have their family register listing altered to be classified as male [R2.4].


In June 2006, South Korea's Supreme Court ruled that transsexuals who have had gender reassignment surgery can legally change the sex by which they are listed in the family registration record [R2.3]. The ruling outlined five key criteria to be used when deciding whether to recognize a transsexual's new gender in official records.


In December 2002, the Inchon District Court ruled that Harisu, the first ever transgender entertainer in the country, should be allowed to legally change her sex as well as her real name to a more feminine one "Lee Kyong-eun" from the previous "Lee Kyong-yop" and granted a request for changing her name on the family resister [R2.2].


In June 1996, Korean law only recognised rape against women therefore Justice Chong Kwi-ho found that a male-to-female transsexual was not raped, as "the person cannot be recognised as [a female] because, among other things, his chromosomes remain unchanged and he cannot get pregnant" [R2.1].

R1.1 PinkNews.co.uk: New Rape Law to Acknowledge Korea's Male and Trans Victims 27 AUG 08
R2.4 fridæ: Genital surgery no longer required for transgenders to change legal gender status: Korean court 18 MAR 13
R2.3 MCV: Trans Victory in South Korea 29 JUN 06
R2.2 Korea Times: Court Allows Transgender Singer to Change Sex 13 DEC 02
R2.1 Brother Sister: Transsexual Attack "Not Rape"" 27 JUN 96

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HIV / Aids Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

On 01 January 2010, South Korea eliminated travel restrictions for people with the HIV virus [R1.3].

Previously:

In September 2008, South Korea was reported as being one of several countries which restrict short-term travel for individuals living with HIV [R1.2].

In 2000, South Korea reportedly had deported 117 foreigners infected with HIV since 1985, according to the nation's National Institute of Health [R1.1].

R1.3 365gay.com: UN lauds US and S Korea for lifting HIV travel ban 05 JAN 09
R1.2 PinkNews.co.uk: Russian Activists Call for End to Restrictions on HIV+ Visitors 06 FEB 09
Immigration Equality: Congress to Bush: Repeal HIV Travel Ban 22 SEP 08
R1.1 Capital Q: PLWHAS Deported 27 OCT 00
Homosexuality, Sodomy Legislation/Cases/References
See also: [MILITARY]
1.

National

Consensual sex between same-sex couples is understood to be lawful [R1.2].


On 3 April 2003, the Youth Protection Committee of South Korea removed the classification of homosexuality as "harmful and obscene" from the 1997 Youth Protection Act [R1.1].

2.

Courts & Tribunals

On 28 July 2016, the Constitutional Court reportedly affirmed 5-4 the constitutionality of Article 92-5 of the old Military Criminal Act (now 92-6) punishing homosexual acts between soldiers. The law prescribes up to two years in prison for soldiers, civilian military employees, and military cadets who ''commits sodomy or other disgraceful conduct'' [R2.2].

In November 2001, homosexual rights advocates filed a lawsuit against the government for blocking access to the nations first Web site for lesbians and gays [R2.1].

R1.2 ILGA: State-Sponsored Homophobia PDF 382.87kb, MAY 08
R1.1 IGLHRC: Homosexuality Removed from Classification of "Harmful and Obscene" in Youth Protection Law 22 APR 03
R2.2 TheHankyoreh: Constitutional Court upholds military’s ban on sodomy 04 AUG 16
R2.1 CNN.com: Lawsuit Filed Over Gay Korean Web Site 12 JAN 02
IGLHRC: Censorship of Gay and Lesbian Internet Sites Takes Effect: Protest Bigotry and Silence 07 JAN 02
Marriage Legislation/Cases/References
1.

Courts & Tribunals

On 06 December 2016, it was reported that 5th civil division of Seoul Seobu District Court under judge Kim Yang-seop had ''dismissed an appeal of a court’s dismissal of a case filed by Kim-Jho Kwang-soo, 51, and Kim Seung-hwan, 32, claiming a district office had acted unjustly in refusing to accept their marriage notice as a same-sex couple'' ruling that same sex marriage cannot be recognized under current South Korean law [R1.2].

On 25 May 2106, a South Korean district court rejected a lawsuit filed by a prominent film director Kim Jho Gwang-Soo and his long-time partner, Kim Seung-Hwan seeking legal status for their same-sex marriage. An appeal is expected [R1.1].

R1.2 theHankyoreh: Same sex couple's marriage notice again rejected by court 07 DEC 16
R1.1 The Guardian: South Korean court rejects film director’s same-sex marriage case 25 MAY 16
Military Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

Gay sex is a serious offence under military codes, and gay men have been regularly viewed as mentally ill and sent to mental institutions [R1.3].


On 18 April 2017, it was reported by campaign group the Military Human Rights Center for Korea (MHRCK) that General Jang Jun-kyu, the army chief of staff, had launched a ''track-down process'' to locate and expose suspected gay personnel. It is alleged that up to 50 soldiers have been outed after being lured in by fake profiles on popular gay dating apps. It has been reported that 20 personnel are now facing serious charges [R1.2].

In April 2006, new military regulations went into effect, restricting the use of personal information about gay soldiers on military documents, ending the forced medical examinations of gay troops and punishing perpetrators of sexuality-based physical or verbal abuse [R1.1].


In 2005, eight soldiers were reportedly discharged from the South Korean military for being gay [R1.1].

2.

Courts & Tribunals

On 18 April 2017, it was reported that a military court had sentenced an army captain to a six-month prison term suspended for a year, for having consensual sex in private with a fellow male soldier. The military penal code, makes homosexual activity punishable by up to two years in prison [R2.4].

On 28 July 2016, the Constitutional Court reportedly affirmed 5-4 the constitutionality of Article 92-5 of the old Military Criminal Act (now 92-6) punishing homosexual acts between soldiers. The law prescribes up to two years in prison for soldiers, civilian military employees, and military cadets who ''commits sodomy or other disgraceful conduct'' [R2.3].

On 31 March 2011, the Constitutional Court ruled a 39-year-old military law criminally punishing homosexual soldiers for performing sexual acts in military barracks is constitutional [R2.2].

On 25 October 2010, the National Human Rights Commission decided that Clause No. 92 in the military penal code making "sodomy or other acts of molestation" unlawful may be unconstitutional [R2.1].

In May 2010, a civic group, supportive of sexual minorities in the military, filed a petition to the Commission seeking a review of the constitutionality of the clause [R2.1].

In August 2008, a military court filed a request to the Constitutional Court that it review the constitutionality of the law. The court said that punishing unforced sexual acts between people of the same sex was excessive [R2.1].

In 2002, the Constitutional Court ruled that the clause, particularly regarding the term of "other acts of molestations", was constitutional [R2.1].

R1.3 PinkNews.co.uk: New Rape Law to Acknowledge Korea's Male and Trans Victims 27 AUG 08
R1.2 fridae: South Korea Military Allegedly Outs Gay Soldiers 18 APR 17
R1.1 MCV: Gay South Korean Soldiers Discharged 03 MAR 06
2. Courts & Tribunals
R2.4 TheIndependent: South Korean military court sentences captain for gay sex 24 MAY 17
R2.3 TheHankyoreh: Constitutional Court upholds military’s ban on sodomy 04 AUG 16
R2.2 The Korea Times: Punishing homosexual soldiers constitutional 31 MAR 11
R2.1 The Korea Herald: Controversy reignited over antisodomy clause 27 OCT 10

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