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“Sexual Minorities Are Not Voters?”
Only three out of eleven candidates returned to the questionnaires of LGBT groups
Kim SamKwon, Reporter
With the presidential election two days away, each candidate is busy vying for votes. They could not conceal their regret when the Federation of Korean Trade Unions made a policy coalition with Grand National Party presidential candidate Lee Myung-Bak. As a rule, candidates are likely to agree on some issues with certain ‘constituents’, which are directly related to votes, even if their original position is contrary to it and the promises are unrealistic.

However, candidates neglect answering the political questionnaires of social minorities, which they evaluate to have small influence over election.

Presidential Candidates Neglect to Answer the Questionnaires of Sexual Minorities

On December 4, 23 sexual minority advocate groups including Solidarity for LGBT Human Rights of Korea, Korea Transgender Human Rights Alliance, Chingusai which is Korean Gay Men’s Human Rights group, Lesbian Counseling Center in South Korea, Korean Sexual-Minority Culture and Rights Center formed ‘the Alliance against Homophobia and Discrimination of Sexual Minorities (the Alliance)’. It raised questions that deal with sexual minorities’ human rights to all the eleven candidates publicly.

The questionnaires cover present issues to secure human rights of sexual minorities like adolescent LGBT, transgender, human rights of gay men in military, education, right of forming family, and sexual minority in general.

The questionnaires contain questions from basic ones intended to check candidates’ awareness like ‘If one of your families or relatives comes out, what change do you expect to occur in your relationship with him or her?’ to inquiries over public pledges like ‘Revising existing notion of family which is fixed around mainly heterosexual ceremonial marriage, and securing the right of forming family for sexual minorities.’

As of today (December, 13), only three candidates have officially replied to the questions; two leftists, Korean Democratic Labor Party candidate Kwuan Young-Gil and Korean Socialist Party candidate Kum Min, and one unattached candidate Lee Hoi-Chang.

There have been many concerns about poor conditions of sexual minority’s human rights in Korea. A case disclosed last February shows the grim reality. An army officer asked his man to take a picture of having sex to prove his gay sexuality.

A statistics conducted by Lesbian Institute for Lesbians (LIFL) in 2004 shows that two out of ten lesbians have had experienced discrimination and damages ‘on the ground of her sexual orientation.’

“Presidential Candidates Closing Eyes on Sexual Minority Issues”

Solidarity for LGBT Human Rights of Korea activist Jung Yol commented on the fact of not sending back answers saying “No matter what campaign pledges they have, they should have returned answers to our questions, if they think of us at least as constituents,” and added “we are assured that they don’t look at us as voters.”

Jung added “Even if they don’t look at us, we will publicize their attitudes into LBGT communities and appraise them by voting.”

In an announcement issued on December, 12, the Alliance stated “Presidential Candidates are closing their eyes on sexual minority communities,” and “we consider they are neglecting or putting aside LGBT human rights issues.” The alliance said it had sent ‘The Ten Demands of Sexual Minorities’ to each campaign headquarter.

The Alliance argued “The next president should not neglect social minorities that have been exposed to oppressions and discriminations, but should respect their voices and devote himself to promoting developing policies for securing human rights,” and “we choose one who respects minorities’ rights and diversity.”

Besides, the Alliance ‘The Ten Demands of Sexual Minorities’ is posted on our article ‘Candidates, why don’t you listen to us about sexual minority’s human rights.’

translated by Cho Eunseok

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