Protestors gear up for Seoul’s growing gay pride festival

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Protestors gear up for Seoul’s growing gay pride festival

A conservative Christian nongovernmental organization protested the 17th Korean Queer Culture Festival to be held today and condemned Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for supporting sexual and gender minority rights in front of Seoul City Hall on Friday.

“Homosexuality out! Park Won-soon out! Ban Ki-moon out!” a pastor from the Jesus Foundation shouted on a stage at Seoul Plaza. “Antidiscrimination law out! Islam out!”

A flier in front of a tent erected by the foundation read, “Homosexuality is a sin that challenges the order God has created!”

The Jesus Foundation has been conducting protests of the annual gay pride parade in front of Seoul City Hall for over 400 days and collecting signatures on a petition to propose an anti-gay marriage bill. The foundation stepped up its demonstration a day before the opening of the biggest festival in the nation to advocate the rights of the so-called LGBTAIQ, or lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, asexual, intersex and queer, community.

The size of the festival has grown from only 50 people in 2000 to 30,000 in 2015. Some 65,000 are expected to participate in today’s parade, and a police force of about 2,000 will be dispatched to oversee the event.

The event will be held from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Seoul Plaza.

According to Rhim Yo-han, the head of the Jesus Foundation, homosexuality is an “absolute sin” and people who defend gay rights are talking “gibberish.”

“Do we question why theft and murder are bad?” said the pastor of the Life Church in Uiwang, Gyeonggi. “We don’t. It’s the same thing with homosexuality. It will destroy the nation, families and humanity.”

The foundation denounced Park and Ban for their active support of gay people. “Homosexuals in Korea enjoy the most privileges in the entire world; they are like VIPs,” Rhim said, despite the fact that gay marriage is still not recognized in Korea.

The protest will continue today alongside the queer festival, Rhim said.

During the demonstration on Friday, the pastor onstage asked the audience, “Does anyone here not know why homosexuality is a sin?”

Not everyone at the protest site agreed with the pastor.

“I simply sat there because I was curious,” said a 23-year-old man, who admitted he was gay but asked not to be named because his parents are not happy about his sexuality.

When asked how he felt about the protest, he said, “I respect their freedom of expression, and I also understand that some people hate gays. But using Jesus and the Bible to hate gay people just makes it worse.”

“I think their hatred of homosexual people is not based on a rational calculus but simple dislike,” said a 23-year-old woman who lives in Incheon and also requested anonymity. “I think their antagonism toward homosexual people stems from ignorance.”

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