Hundreds of thousands of anti-LGBTQ Koreans are demanding that the South Korean president cancel the country’s annual Pride festival.
The Seoul Queer Culture Festival, a three-day Pride celebration in the heart of South Korean capital, is nothing new. The event turns 19 this year and is slated to include art installations and its own film festival.
But homophobic Koreans are ramping up their efforts to put an end to the Pride celebration, sending an angry petition to President Moon Jae-in.
“We do not want to see their abominable events in a square where we should be able to rest and relax,” reads the petition, published on the president’s website, in Korean. “Every year, queer-themed events such as street performances, drinking, and smoking are called ’cultural festivals,’ but they are just occasions filled with illegal acts and hypocrisy.”
The petition went live on June 14. As of this story’s publication, more than 216,000 Koreans have signed it.
South Korea has a fraught relationship with LGBTQ equality. Although the nation’s laws permit homosexuality, and establish an equal age of consent, anti-LGBTQ religious groups in Korea have prevented marriage equality or comprehensive legal protections for queer people from becoming the law of the land. In 2017, President Moon Jae-in himself said in a televised debate that he opposed homosexuality, though some supporters believe he was only saving face in front of conservative constituents.
In the past, the Queer Culture Festival itself has also faced homophobic backlash. Organizers of the 2015 festival had to go to court to overturn a police ban on the festivities. But things are looking up: 2017’s event saw a record-breaking turnout of LGBTQ Koreans.
The 2018 Seoul Queer Culture Festival kicks off this Friday, July 13, with weekend events continuing until Sunday, July 22.