South Korean Military
2 min read

Amnesty International is urging the South Korean military to remove its outdated and backwards ban on consensual same-sex sexual activity between members of its Armed Forces.

The ban which has remained in place despite homosexuality being legal in South Korea is inforced by Article 92-6 of the nation’s Military Criminal Act and punishes sexual relations between men in the military, whether they are on or off duty, with up to two years in prison under an “indecent acts” clause.

The calls for the removal of the ban have been further reinforced with the fact that South Korea also enforces compulsory military service of 21 months for all men, resulting in a severe impact to LGBTI people within the military, as highlighted by a new Amnesty International report.

“South Korea’s military must stop treating LGBTI people as the enemy. The criminalisation of same-sex sexual activity is devastating for the lives of so many LGBTI soldiers and has repercussions in the broader society,” Roseann Rife, East Asia Research Director at Amnesty International explained.

“This hostile environment fosters abuse and bullying of young men who stay silent out of fear of reprisals. It is long overdue for the military to acknowledge that a person’s sexual orientation is totally irrelevant to their ability to serve.”

The report also highlighted incidents in the South Korean Military, in which gay soldiers were subjected to physical violence, including rape, and humiliation as a result of the policy. 

Speaking to Amnesty International, several soldiers explained that they had been sent to military mental health facilities or so-called “green camps” or “healing camps,” following abuse that was usually portrayed as punishment for “not being masculine enough,” which could include walking in an “effeminate” manner, having fairer skin or speaking in a higher-pitched voice.

South Korea’s Constitutional Court is currently reconsidering whether the criminalisation of same-sex sexual activity by military personnel is constitutional. Shockingly the court has in the past ruled that it is constitutional three times since 2002.

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