South Korean Courts Rejects Same-Sex Marriage

"I don't know why we have to be pushed to the side just because we are the same sex."

A South Korean court has rejected a gay couple’s petition to marry, the first such request in the country.

“Circumstances have changed concerning marriage… but unless there is separate legislation, a same-sex union cannot be recognized as marriage under the existing legal system,” the court said in a statement. “The constitution and civil law are premised on the notion of a conjugal bond meaning a union involving different sexes.”

Movie director Kim Jho Gwang-Soo and his partner, Kim Seung-Hwan, initially filed a lawsuit in July 2015, They argued that their same-sex union was legal under Korean civil law.

“I don’t know why we have to be pushed to the side just because we are the same sex,” said a tearful Kim Jho, whose films include Two Weddings and a Funeral and Boy Meets Boy.

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - SEPTEMBER 07:  Same-sex couple Kim Jho Gwang-Soo and Kim Seung-Hwan attend their marriage press conference on September 7, 2013 in Seoul, South Korea.  (Photo by Choi Soo-Young/Multi-Bits via Getty Images)
Choi Soo-Young/Multi-Bits

Kim Seung-Hwan called on other gay and lesbian couples to step forward. “I would like to ask all same-sex couples to come out of the closet and join us,” Kim said. “The legalization will happen faster if the concerned party gets bigger.”

TO GO WITH SKorea-society-gay-rights-marriage,INTERVIEW by Giles HEWITT This picture taken on July 15, 2015 shows Kim Jho Gwang-Soo (L), a South Korean movie director who is gay, and his long-time partner Kim Seung-Hwan (R), posing on their bed at their home in Seoul. Buoyed by the US Supreme Court's recent landmark decision on same sex marriage, the gay rights movement in South Korea is currently riding something of a mini-wave in terms of its public profile and popular support.     AFP PHOTO / JUNG YEON-JE        (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)

Their attorney, Ryu Min-Hee, said they plan on appealing the judge’s ruling. “We’re disappointed but we’re not done yet… We will continue to add litigants. The voice will get louder from all regions.”


The two Kims, who have been together for 12 years, held a symbolic wedding ceremony in 2013 that was attended by hundreds. That ceremony was briefly interrupted by a Christian activist, who threw food on members of the choir.

Homosexuality is legal in Korea but is still taboo—Kim Jho and actor-politician Hong Seok-cheon are two of the only out celebrities in the country.

Below, activists discuss the push for marriage equality in Asia.

For more on international LGBT issues, visit Logo’s Global Ally page.

h/t: Gay Star News

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.