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South Korea LGBT activists protest ban on queer pride parade

Seoul police had told the organizers the parade would block four hubs of city traffic and cause congestion in key areas.

By Elizabeth Shim
South Korea LGBT activists protest ban on queer pride parade
Gay rights activists in South Korea claim Seoul police are caving in to the demands of conservative factions who stand opposed to the needs and interests of South Korea’s LGBT community and its gay culture parade, which has occurred yearly since 2000. File Photo by Yonhap

SEOUL, June 4 (UPI) -- South Korean organizers of an annual Queer Culture Festival are protesting a Seoul police decision to ban its yearly parade.

At a press conference held outside the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency on Tuesday, organizers of the parade said they "cannot accept" a ban on the June 28 parade issued by the Seoul Metropolitan Police and the Namdaemun district police, according to South Korean newspaper Herald Business.

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Both police agencies have cited two articles in South Korea legislation pertaining to assemblies and protests as reasons for the ban.

Seoul police had told the organizers the parade would block four hubs of city traffic and cause congestion in key areas. They said the festival has been permitted for 15 years in different Seoul neighborhoods and has never caused problems.

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This year, however, conservative Christian groups including the Christian Council of Korea had asked the city to ban the festival's new plan to bring the procession closer to the city center.

Seoul police said they are "helping the parade" by banning the planned route, because if it goes underway, the festival will be met with disruptive protests from conservative Christians.

Gay rights activists in South Korea have claimed Seoul police is caving into the demands of conservative factions who stand opposed to the needs and interests of the LGBT community.

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South Korean newspaper Hankyoreh reported Kang Myeong-jin, chief organizer of the Queer Culture Festival, said Thursday the police have surrendered to the demands of conservative groups.

Seoul police said in a statement the agency would work with parade organizers on a route that could lead to a more "peaceful procession."

South Korea's attitude toward sexual minorities is changing rapidly.

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In April, a South Korean poll showed young South Korean respondents are increasingly open-minded about the rights of sexual minorities, and their favorable attitudes toward the LGBT community have doubled between 2010 and 2014.

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