A corona-infected man who visited several gay bars in Seoul has been blamed for a new Coronavirus outbreak in South Korea, which risks increasing homophobic abuse in the country.
A symptom-free 29-year-old, who was later diagnosed with Covid-19, visited five gay bars in Seoul’s Itaewon party area without knowing he was carrying the coronavirus.
According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said on Friday at least 15 people have confirmed cases of the virus – including the friend he was with – have been found infected. However, this figure is expected to increase.
Seoul city officials say they have a list of about 1,500 people who have visited the clubs, and more cases have been confirmed in other cities where the patients lived or travelled.
Recently, no new infection has been found in the last four days.
The incident has spread new fear of a major outbreak, and the homophobic comments have started to rise.
The fact that Korean authorities have particularly emphasized that the infection took place at gay bars is interpreted by local LGBTQ organizations as a desire to blame the new coronavirus outbreak on the LGBT community.
They fear this will lead to increased homo hatred in South Korea – a country where homosexuality is admittedly legal, but discrimination against LGBT people is common.
“There is already a stigma against gays in Korean society, and it is obvious the media is now focusing on gays and club life for LGBTQ people to become hate objects,” commented Jay Kim, a young gay in Seoul, to Reuters.
The reports included the age, gender, location and movements of the first individual who was tested positive after visiting those clubs, as well as the type of job he worked in, according to Solidarity for LGBT Human Rights in Korea, the nation’s largest rights group.
“It is not just unhelpful to disclose information of an individual’s movement for prevention efforts, but also a serious human rights violation that invades the individual’s privacy and has him outed to society,” the group said.