South Korea’s highest court reverses convictions of two soldiers for having sex off-duty

South Korea’s highest court reverses convictions of two soldiers for having sex off-duty
Soldiers in South Korea are forbidden to have same-sex relationships
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In a national first, the highest court in South Korea has overturned a military court order which had previously convicted two soldiers for a consensual same-sex relationship whilst off-duty back in 2016.

Not only were the gay couple off-duty but they were outside of the military base as well resulting in the court reversing the conviction citing their rights to human dignity, sexual autonomy and the pursuit of happiness. 

The court said: “The specific ideas of what constitutes as indecency has changed accordingly with the changes in time and society. The view that sexual activity between people of the same sex is a source of sexual humiliation and disgust for objective regular people and goes against decent moral sense can hardly be accepted as a universal and proper moral standard for our times.”

The two men, who were lieutenant and sergeant in different units at the time, were charged by military prosecutors in 2017. The ruling has been largely praised by human rights groups as it’s the first time the Supreme Court has ruled in favour of queer troops accused of violating the Military Criminal Act in a country where same-sex relationships are not illegal but gay marriage isn’t legal either and there at no out queer politicians in what is still a conservative (although that IS improving) country. 

Amnesty International’s East Asia researcher Boram Jang said of the news: “This groundbreaking decision is an important triumph in the fight against discrimination faced by LGBTI people in South Korea. The criminalisation of consensual same-sex sexual acts in South Korea’s military has long been a shocking violation of human rights, but today’s ruling should pave the way for military personnel to freely live their lives without the threat of prosecution.”

 

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