South Korea soldier condemns country's anti-sodomy law

By Elizabeth Shim
South Korean soldiers are discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation, a defendant said Monday. File Photo by Yonhap/UPI
South Korean soldiers are discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation, a defendant said Monday. File Photo by Yonhap/UPI

June 24 (UPI) -- A South Korean soldier who has been accused of "disgraceful conduct" says he is struggling with anti-gay discrimination in the military.

During a press briefing featuring testimony from a soldier charged with crimes for being openly gay, activists, including Lim Tae-hoon, director of the Military Human Rights Center, said defendants tried and convicted under the 1962 Military Criminal Act's Article 92-6 should be acquitted, Money Today reported.


The activists also called for the annulment of the country's "anti-sodomy" law in the military on Monday.

The South Korean soldier, who testified on the condition of anonymity, appeared at the briefing, but according to News 1, he wore a mask. He also stayed behind a curtain, or a screen, in order to shield his identity, according to reports.

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The soldier, currently on active duty, said he is facing extreme prejudice in the military after being found to be gay.

"I was framed as a sex offender, a promiscuously sadistic and a mentally ill patient," the soldier identified as "A" said. "All because the person I love is a man.

"I have never hurt anyone and lived an ordinary life. I do not know why I should be discriminated against and be isolated. Article 92-6 must be abolished."


According to Human Rights Watch, the law has been used to punish sexual acts between servicemen, with up to two years in prison under a "disgraceful conduct" clause, and regardless of consent.

Soldier "A" was found guilty during his first two trials; he now awaits trial at South Korea's Supreme Court.

The defendant said Monday his colleagues in the army used to praise his performance but "turned against him" after learning of his sexual orientation.

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He also said there are many other servicemen who are experiencing employment discrimination or being denied promotion, because of their identity.

The victims are at risk of being fired from the military for their same-sex preferences, the defendant said.

South Korea does not criminalize same-sex behavior among civilians and the army bans anti-gay discrimination, but Article 92-6 allows punishment for sexual acts that take place either in or outside military facilities, according to HRW.

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