Courtesy of Descendants of the Sun
South Korea as a country still needs to evolve when it comes to its attitude towards gay people and gay life.
It’s far from its neighbor Taiwan which has already approved same-sex marriage.
South Korea’s military needs to put in even more work.
In South Korea, all adult men have to serve three years in the military or supplement that with an approved public service position. That said, it is illegal to be gay or to have sex with someone of the same sex while in the military.
This ends up putting gay men in a terrible and unavoidable position.
And you may think, “Maybe its like Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Just keep it quiet and you’ll survive.” That’s not the case.
In South Korea, their official code bans homosexual activity under Article 92-6 "to keep the military community sound."
The idea is that gay romance or sexual interaction is disgraceful and can cause problems with team relations.
Even worse, military leaders are actually going out of their way to find gay men and throw them in jail for between six months and two years.
At the moment, reporters are guessing that the number of servicemen arrested since this burst in gay convictions is at 32, but of course the South Korean military will not officially give a number.
Amnesty International is calling this South Korean effort as the military going on a “gay witch hunt.”
Images from Descendants of the Sun.
Roseann Rife, The East Asian Research Director of Amnesty International, made an official statement saying:
“President Moon Jae-in needs to send an unequivocal message that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity will not be tolerated, including in the military.”
“It is long overdue for South Korea to repeal this archaic and discriminatory provision in the military criminal code, and get up-to-date when it comes to the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex people.”
And as you would guess, the soldiers being attacked feel threatened and lost in a hostile environment.
CNN was able to talk to a solider, who remained anonymous, after he was investigated by the Korean military.
Sergeant A, as he went by, told CNN that the military told him they knew he was gay and that his ex-partner had confessed to their “crimes.” The military contacted him with the goals of arresting him.
During the investigation, he was asked personal and sexually charged questions that made him feel “uncomfortable and humiliated.”
From Descendants of the Sun.
"The atmosphere was very oppressive and humiliating," he said. "I was scared."
Then Sergeant A stated the that investigators went to extensive measures to get him to cooperate. They took his phone and threatened to tell his unit about his sexuality.
This gay panic is only heating up, but protestors and activists around the globe are asking for it to stop.
The new South Korean President, Moon Jae-In, however publicly expressed opposition to LGBTQ issues before then pulling back and saying its "still a little early to allow homosexuality within the military."
But sadly, that’s not true. There are gay men in the military. All men have to serve at some point in their lives. That means there will be gay men included in the ranks.
The South Korean military needs to either be more selective in choosing their servicemen, which they can’t do with North Korea breathing down their necks, or change Article 92-6.
These men don’t deserve to be living in fear.