Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, A/HRC/25/55/Add.1, 23 December 2013: Republic of Korea
IV. Situation of human rights defenders
G. Defenders working for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people
96. Those working for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people face discrimination, stigmatization and undue restrictions to their right to express themselves freely. The case of the Mapo Residents Rainbow Alliance, which applied to put up a banner in the Mapo-Gu neighbourhood of Seoul and found its request rejected due to the fact that it contained words such as “lesbian”, “gay”, “bisexual” and “transgender”, is relevant in this respect. It is reported that the relevant Mapo-Gu Office asked the organization to revise the content of the banner for fear that such words would be harmful to adolescents and uncomfortable for older people. The Special Rapporteur considers the Mapo banner incident as a violation of the right to freedom of expression and an act of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. She is pleased to note that, after her visit, NHRCK issued an opinion on the case along the same lines.
97. The Special Rapporteur was informed that the Anti-Discrimination Bill, being discussed at the time of her visit, does not cover all grounds for discrimination, notably discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. While welcoming the legislative initiative, she is concerned about the narrow base of such important legislation and trusts that the relevant authorities will take the necessary action to ensure that the human rights obligations of the Republic of Korea will be upheld as this law is adopted.
Link to full text of the report: Report-SRHRD-Republic of Korea-2013-eng