Court rules chemical ‘castration’ constitutional

December 23, 2015

SEOUL (Yonhap) — The Constitutional Court ruled in a 6-3 vote Wednesday that hormonal treatment to suppress sexual impulses in sex offenders is constitutional.

In 2013, a district court had challenged the law that allows chemical castration for convicted child molesters over 19 years of age who are at risk of repeating their crimes, saying it violates basic human rights.

The Constitutional Court, however, said the medication is a temporary treatment for the offenders and the hormones could be produced again when the treatment is stopped.

The court also pointed out that the treatment targets are narrowly selected, and only for pedophiles, after experts’ analysis.

Three judges who opposed to the law said it is problematic to use the treatment when the effects and the side effects have not yet been properly verified.

The law authorizing chemical castration for sex offenders came into effect in 2011 — the first Asian country to adopt this type of treatment — amid a public outcry over a series of rapists reoffending following their release.

Chemical castration involves administering medication — either via injection or tablets — to take away sexual interest and make it impossible for a person to perform sexual acts. The effects are reversible after the person stops taking the drug.