[URGENT] Call for Action from South Korea: Rainbow Occupied Seoul City Hall, We Need Your Support!
Dear friends and colleagues,
We, Rainbow Action, a coalition of 20 LGBT organizations of the Republic of Korea, have an urgent request for your support to stop discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity by the Mayor of Seoul Metropolitan Government (“SMG”), Mr. Park Won-Soon, in the Republic of Korea.
Mayor Mr. Park, formerly a human rights lawyer, is halting the process of enacting the Seoul Charter of Human Rights (“the Charter”), because the Charter includes a provision that states the principle of non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. He then expressly and publicly denounced the rights of LGBT people. The Charter was duly drafted and passed by the Citizen Committee. It awaits proclamation by Mr. Park, which he now rejects. We need your support to make it happen!
The Charter was drafted and passed by the Citizen Committee, composed of 134 lay citizens and 30 human rights experts, including professors and activists, on November 28, 2014. The SMG, however, announced on November 30, 2014 that it would not proclaim the Charter. And the next day, December 1, 2014, Mr. Park, at a meeting with protestant pastors, assured that “As the Mayor of Seoul, I do not support homosexuality.” He apologized to the pastors for the “social conflicts” caused during the process and confirmed that the Charter will not be made with inclusion of such provisions that cause “social conflicts.”
The ‘social conflicts,’ which Mr. Park refers to, in fact mean the instances where the hate groups had caused during the deliberation process in drafting the Charter. The hate groups, mostly fundamental Christians, violently disrupted the public hearing on November 20, 2014. The SMG, however, did not stop the hate groups, or try to call the police, and only left the hate groups to forcibly end the public hearing. The SMG’s non-action to such hate-motivated violence, in addition to Mr. Park’s remark before the pastors, clearly express the intention to condone, and thus authorize, discrimination and violence against LGBT people.
The Mayor’s denying the Charter for the reason that it states the non-discrimination principle on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is an act of discrimination by the State that does not comport with the Constitution and the National Human Rights Commission Act, as well as the international human rights law. The Charter must be proclaimed, as is originally scheduled on December 10, 2014, Human Rights Day, in Seoul.
We, LGBT activists and supporters, now occupied the City Hall to protest against the discrimination. Mr. Park has never responded yet to our repeated requests to have a meeting. We demand a meeting with the Mayor, Mr. Park Won-Soon. We demand him to proclaim the Charter.
Please show your support by sending messages to the Mayor of Seoul Metropolitan Government, Mr. Park Won-Soon (Twitter @wonsoonpark, Email firstname.lastname@example.org, Fax +82-2-2133-0797(Seoul Human Rights Center)), urging him to proclaim the Charter and observe the duty to protect LGBT people from any forms of discrimination and violence. And forward this message to your friends and colleagues.
The Seoul Charter of Human Rights was a project that Mr. Park himself initiated as part of the pledges he made when he ran for the Mayor election in 2011. The Citizen Committee, composed of 164 citizens who voluntarily applied and selected by lot, was empowered with the authority to draft and conclude the Charter after deliberative meetings under the facilitation of 30 human rights experts who included activists and professors. Through the intensive debates for four months since August, the Citizen Committee passed the Charter on November 28, 2014.
The Citizen Committee, understandably in a sense, could not reach a consensus on several provisions relating to LGBT rights. They thus agreed to decide the issue by vote and finally resolved to include the LGBT related provisions. It was only then when the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) announced that the SMG would reject the Charter unless it is adopted by unanimous consent. The SMG now rejects to proclaim the Charter, by unilaterally claiming the rule which never existed in the first place, nor does the SMG even have the authority to make.
Mr. Park’s statement at the meeting with pastors, among others, revealed that the SMG’s unreasonable demand that it would recognize only those lists of ‘human rights’ that are unanimously agreed, is a mere excuse to cover its intention to exclude any notions of LGBT rights in the Charter. The proclamation of the Charter was originally scheduled as part of the event to celebrate the upcoming Human Rights Day. The event is still on schedule, and only the proclamation of the Charter is cancelled.
The Charter, if proclaimed, will work as the basis for the SMG to make action plan on human rights for the citizens of Seoul. The Seoul Metropolitan City is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Korea, which is home of 12 million people.
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