Posted : 2014-06-08 18:40
Updated : 2014-06-10 09:07

Conservative groups disrupt Korea Queer Festival

A woman, right, holds up a sign that reads, "Both parents are men, both parents are women. Our children are crying," beside an event supporter at the annual Korea Queer Festival (KQF) last Saturday in Sinchon, northwestern Seoul. / Yonhap

By Joel Lee

Korea's annual gay pride festival faced opposition over the weekend as conservative groups blocked a parade running through Sinchon, northwestern Seoul.

Some 300 members of the Korea Parent Federation and other conservative Christian groups showed up for the annual Korea Queer Festival (KQF), which held its main activities on Saturday in the university enclave.

"Repent…homosexuality is a sin," read one banner. "Our children must be raised within a moral culture," said another.

A third sign suggested that it was not an appropriate time for sexual minorities to celebrate their community: "There are still 14 missing in the cold Jindo Sea," it read.

The situation came to a head around 5:30 p.m. when many of the festival's 5,000 participants began a scheduled, two-kilometer march from Sinchon Station to Yonsei University.

Witnesses said that protesters jumped in front of floats being used in the parade, forcing the march to stop after some 30 minutes.

"A huge crowd of middle aged Christian men came out shouting on top of their lungs while holding big crosses," said a 26-year-old American who asked not to be named. "They performed baptism rites and pushed the float backward."

Camille Paul Felizat, a 25-year-old student from France, added: "It was chaotic with protesters praying, crying, singing, and laying on the floor. They occupied the street for a good part of the night."

Felizat said many participants managed to have a good time despite taking the protests with the grain of salt. "They weren't affected at all," he said.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people say the KQF is a rare chance to express solidarity in a country where harsh stigmatization makes "coming out" exceedingly difficult.

The country's conservative Christian lobby has been the most vocal opponent of LGBT rights, blocking legislation that would protect gays and other groups.

This year's festival -- which opened last Tuesday and runs through June 15 -- aims to promote solidarity between the sexual minority groups in Asia and broaden public understanding of gay rights.

The American, French and German embassies are all supporting the event.

Steve Miller, host of the podcast "Asia News Weekly," was present at the festival with his wife and spoke to The Korea Times over the phone. He said he witnessed many of the protesters launch verbal attacks on participants.

"It's a sad thing that people still have to still fight for equality, for being simply who they are," he said. "Despite their ‘love' chant, what the church groups were preaching was hate."

관련 한글 기사

서울 신촌 일대서 성소수자 축제 열려

7일 오후 서울 서대문구 신촌 연세로 일대에서 성소수자들의 축제인 '제15회 퀴어문화축제'가 열렸다.

지난 2000년 처음 시작돼 올해로 15회째를 맞은 이번 행사에서는 '사랑은 혐오보다 강하다'를 주제로 각종 전시와 축하공연 등이 펼쳐졌다.

강명진 퀴어문화축제조직위원장은 '한국의 성소수자는 물론 성소수자를 지지하는 시민의 참여를 통해 사랑이 혐오보다 강하다는 것을 보여주는 계기가 되기를 바란다'고 밝혔다.

이번 행사를 앞두고 서대문구청이 지난달 '세월호 참사로 국가적 추모 분위기가 이어지고 있고, 퀴어문화축제가 현재 사회적 분위기에 적합하지 않다'며 행사 장소인 연세로 차량 통제 약속을 철회해 주최 측과 인권단체들이 반발하기도 했다. 

한편 이날 오전 신촌 인근에서는 기독교 단체인 '기독NGO 예수재단'이 동성결혼금지법 제정을 촉구하는 결의대회를 열었다. 

퀴어문화축제가 열리는 오후에는 보수단체 어버이연합과 기독교 단체 '동성애회복자모임 홀리라이프'가 행사장 근처에서 퀴어문화축제에 반대하는 '맞불' 집회를 각각 열었다.

퀴어문화축제 참가자 1천여 명은 오후 5시30분부터 신촌 유플렉스를 출발해 연세대 로터리와 경의선 신촌역을 거쳐 다시 유플렉스로 돌아오는 경로(2km)로 거리 퍼레이드를 펼치려 했다.

그러나 퀴어문화축제를 반대하는 300여 명이 퍼레이드 차량을 가로막는 등 행진 저지에 나서는 바람에 퍼레이드가 4시간이 넘도록 가다 서다를 반복했다.

행사 반대 측은 자신들을 끌어내려는 경찰과 격렬한 몸싸움을 벌였으며, 그 과정에서 반대 측 남성 4명이 해산명령불응 혐의로 서대문경찰서로 연행됐다.

퀴어문화축제 주최 측은 결국 오후 9시40분께 반대 측에 가로막힌 신촌 명물거리를 빠져나와 신촌 유플렉스까지 우회 행진한 뒤 10시40분께 해산했다. (연합뉴스)

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