Seoul court rules to prevent posters advocating for gay rights

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Seoul court rules to prevent posters advocating for gay rights

The Seoul Central District Court yesterday ruled in favor of the Seocho District Office’s decision to disallow the posting of an ad campaigning for gay rights.

The plaintiff, identified as Lee, filed a civil injunction complaint against the Seocho District Office after his request to place an advertisement advocating gay rights near the Seoul National University of Education subway station was rejected by the office this May, following its dismissal made last year.

The district office in southern Seoul denied Lee’s request saying the ad may “harm traditional customs as well as negatively influence young students.”

Lee is an openly gay advocate for gay rights in Korea. He alleged that the ban should be reversed as it marginalizes and discriminates against sexual minorities.

The rejected ad consists of a line that reads, “I dream of a society in which a difference does not become a reason for discrimination. Someone in our neighborhood may be a minority in sexual orientation.”

Among the 11 district offices that received the ad-placement request, six district offices, including Jongno and Yongsan, accepted the request to put up the ad, which marks the first time a gay rights ad was approved to be shown in public.

“Upon accepting the request, we allowed Lee’s ad for two weeks in May,” said an official at the Yongsan District Office.

“After the ad was displayed, there were hundreds of phone calls to the office complaining and protesting the ad, so it’s not likely we will permit such campaign ads in the near future,” added the official.

Explaining its ruling to reject an injunction suit raised by Lee, the court said “The decision by the Seocho District was made on the basis of administrative disposition. Therefore, the plaintiff should deal with the issue within the administrative proceedings instead of civil litigation.”

The court also denied the plaintiff’s demand for compensation of 10 million won ($8,800), saying “It is not clear that Lee will be faced with financial difficulties until judgment of the merits of the case is delivered based on documents submitted by the plaintiff.”

By Kang Jin-kyu [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]

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