By Bae Ji-sook
A group of gay rights activists have filed a petition with the National Human Rights Commission that the cancellation of an "international" gathering of theirs by an art museum constitutes a violation of human rights. They insist that they should be treated equally as others.
"Chingusai, one of the largest gay right groups here, said Wednesday that it has filed a petition that the Korea Sports Promotion Foundation (KSPF) has refused to rent one of its facilities for their event, citing "appropriateness."
The event was scheduled to be held at SOMA Museum in eastern Seoul on June 28, hosted by the Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies, a group of homosexuals working for U.S. foreign affairs departments.
TV-personality Hong Seok-chun, widely famous for being the first celebrity to come out of the closet here as well as other gay rights activists, were invited to discuss the social atmosphere toward homosexuals and how attitudes could possibly change in the future.
The participants were also to view the exhibition of pop-artist Keith Haring currently held at the museum.
However, just three days prior to the meeting, the organizers were told by the KSPF, the management of the building, that they would have to withdraw the event. The event was relocated to a U.S. embassy facility in Yongsan, central Seoul.
"They said they were concerned about the national image since South Korea isn't yet ready to talk about gay rights in public. They said they would welcome the exhibition tour, but cannot allow us to gather there for a discussion of gay rights," said a member of Chingusai, who declined to be named.
The group stated, "Canceling an event just three days before it is scheduled is inappropriate. Citing the theme of sexual preference as the reason is a clear discrimination and violation of human rights of the event planners to live happily and equally as others.
"There have been quite a few times that gay rights groups were discriminated against but this time, it involves foreign envoys and we thought the government would do better," the spokesman said.
"Keith Haring himself was gay and worked hard to use his popularity and power in improving the lives of gays and the social perception of them. How ironic is that?" he added.
Separately, Yonhap News quoted a KSPF spokesman as saying that the museum only opens until 7 p.m., and that the hours did not match the event schedule that was supposed to start in the evening.
게이 운동가 모임 취소 항의
동성애 권익옹호 운동가들은 미술관이 자신들의 "국제" 행사를 취소시킨 것은 인권침해라며 인권위원회에 탄원서를 냈다. 이들은 다른 사람들과 똑같이 대해 줄 것을 요구했다.
국내 최대 게이단체 중 하나인 "친구사이"는 수요일 국민체육진흥공단이 "부적합하다"는 이유로 시설을 안 빌려 준 것에 대한 탄원이었다.
이들은 6월 28일 서울 동부 소마 박물관에서 미국 외무부 산하 외무관련 기관들에서 일하는 게이와 레즈비언들과 함께 모임을 가질 예정이었다.
하지만 예정일 3일전 국민체육진흥공단이 이벤트를 중지해야 된다고 통보했고 결국 행사는 용산에 있는 미국시설에서 가졌다.
친구사이의 한 단원은 "국민체육진흥공단이 우리가 전시회를 보는 것은 괜찮지만 한국 정서상 게이인권에 대해 상의하는 것은 안된다" 고 전했다.
친구사이 그룹은 "행사 일정 3일전에 이 같은 통보는 부적합하다. 여러 번 우리는 이 같은 이유 때문에 거절 당했지만 이번은 외국 특사들도 모이는 자리인데 정부는 이에 대해 더 잘했어야 했다" 고 주장했다.