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Economy Takes Precedence over Human Rights?
“Homosexuality is a Sin, Burden over Companies” Vs. “Promoting Discrimination”
Kim SamKwon, Reporter
The Korean Ministry of Justice is in the heart of a dispute over non-discrimination act that it has proposed to “secure the idea of the constitution and international regulations on human rights, and promote civil rights of social minorities.”

Last month Justice Department announced new legislation criminalizing discriminations on 20 grounds like sex, disability in the areas of employment, services and education.

The suggested lists of the act included at first total of 20 entries; sex, disability, medical history, age, nationality, ethnic group, race, skin color, language, region of birth, physical conditions like appearance, marriage, pregnancy or childbirth, family type, religion, ideology or political opinion, criminal or detention record, sexual orientation, educational status and social class.

Christianity churches claim “Homosexuality is a sin”, economic organizations “Burden on corporate”

As the Ministry of Justice announced the bill, some Christianity churches and economic organizations opposed provoking some accusations over entries like ‘sexual orientation’, ‘academic attainments’ and ‘nationality.’

Especially some Christianity groups like Korean Prayer Breakfast Group, Holy City Movement, and Christian Council of Korea grasp the bill’s goal is to “allow homosexuality.” They made an anti-homosexuality group called “the League for Mission of Deterring the Homosexuality Non-Discrimination Act (League for Mission)” and have been acting against homosexuality since November 22.

Jang Hun-Il, general director of the League for Mission, said “the act will allow homosexuality and criminalize all the decent actions of blocking its spreading,” and claimed “if homosexuality is allowed, victims will be forced to become homosexuals and the morals of Korean society will immediately collapse.” He added “We should teach adolescents that homosexuality is a sin and the God forbids it.”

Economic organizations including Korean Employers Federation are also opposing the act saying “it will put weights on companies and provide more rigidity on labor market so that the economic growth will be affected.” The Korean Employers Federation and the Federation of Korean Industries have long been opposed to the Disability Discrimination Act since April.

In the face of the pressures, the draft bill was sent from the MOJ to the Ministry of Government Legislation, seven of the bill’s original 20 protections had disappeared; medical history, nationality, language, family type, criminal or detention record, sexual orientation, educational status.

“It’s a result of an unprincipled coalition between fundamental churches, business circles and MOJ”

Korean human rights organizations including LGBT ones have responded forcefully to the exclusion of original protections.

Eighty seven human rights and LGBT rights groups including Solidarity for LGBT Human Rights of Korea, Sarangbang Group for Human Rights, Chingusai which is Korean Gay Men’s Human Rights group, Lesbian Counseling Center in South Korea held jointed press conference and showed their rejection to the bill saying in statement “The MOJ deleted nine of the bill’s original 20 protections to make the bill promote discrimination.”

The groups pointed out that the exclusion of seven protections was “a result of collaboration of anti-gay Christian fundamentalist, business circle that recognizes human beings as commodities and the MOJ that sees human rights as an ornament.”

They denounced the MOJ on the ground that they abandoned human rights yielding to “some anti-gay Christian fundamentalists and business owners.”

“Not Non-Discrimination Act but Discrimination-Promoting Act”

Referring to the exclusion of ‘Sexual Orientation’, the human rights groups said “while widespread anti-gay bias in Korean society compels most LGBT Koreans to be discriminated, to surrender to those fundamentalist efforts and remove protections from a landmark non-discrimination bill spontaneously confirms that sexual minority cannot have any human rights.”

In relation to the exclusion of ‘Educational Status’ and ‘Nationality’ they also remarked “Business owners’ “economy first” attitude makes discrimination and exploitation to immigrant workers who don’t have Korean nationality and competent people who didn’t graduate from a university,” and said “the exclusion declares that profit prevails human rights.”

Noh Hoi-Chan, a representative of the KDLP, said “The MOJ has deleted the meaning of the bill, and the bill has become a discrimination-promoting act,” and “the passage of the present bill would be as same as to declare that one can discriminate other on the grounds of nationality, educational status and sexual orientation.”

“We don’t surrender to the pressure of Christian fundamentalists and the business world,” a MOJ official who declined to be named said and made a defense, “we revised it in comparison with many other countries, which maintain on average about 13 protections, and some of the entries are repetitions of advices of National Human Rights Commission of ROK.”

The bill is reviewed by the Ministry of Government Legislation for further study. It is expected to be re-released on Nov 27.

translated by Cho Eunseok

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