S. Korean police deny permission for LGBT parade

June 1, 2015
LGBT pride parade in South Korea on June 7, 2014. (Courtesy of Cezzie901 via Flickr/Creative Commons)

LGBT pride parade in South Korea on June 7, 2014. (Courtesy of Cezzie901 via Flickr/Creative Commons)

By Kim Se-jeong

Police have denied permission for a street parade highlighting the rights of sexual minorities scheduled for later this month in central Seoul, upsetting the event’s organizers.

According to the festival organizer Monday, the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency turned down the organizer’s request for the June 28 parade.

It was planned as a part of events for the Korea Queer Festival, which will run from June 9-28. The opening ceremony will take place at Seoul Plaza, and the parade was also scheduled to start at the plaza.

The police said other groups had already submitted plans to stage a parade at the same time and location. They also said that the organizer’s parade, which was to proceed from the plaza and along Cheonggye Stream before returning to the plaza, would worsen traffic conditions in the area.

The festival organizers protested.

“For the last 15 years, the festival has not caused any traffic problems,” said one member of the festival organizing committee.

The Korea Queer Festival marks its 16th year this year. Previously, festivals and parades were held on the streets of Sinchon, where there is a large college student population. This was the first event planned for Seoul Plaza.

The organizer suspects others who scheduled events that effectively blocked the street parade were conservative Christian groups which opposed the festival, thus giving police an excuse to say no to the parade.

“We know that some Christian groups have attempted to prevent the parade by reserving the same time slot and the same location for their own gatherings,” the member said.

He said this was not the first such attempt by the groups.

“We earlier tried to hold the parade on June 13 at Daehangno, but couldn’t do so because several Christian groups made the same requests to the local police.”

Police said that during last year’s parade in Sinchon, the parade participants and opposition groups clashed and caused a traffic jam in the neighboring area that lasted four hours. “If the festival organizer suggests other parade courses, we’ll review them and decide whether to allow it.”

Opposition from conservative Christians’ to the sexual minorities’ parade has been strong.

Representatives have been staging rallies at Seoul Plaza in protest against the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s decision to permit the festival’s opening ceremony there.

They also filed a petition with the police to cancel the parade.

“The queer festival is a lascivious event that is against the public sentiment,” five conservative Christina groups said in a statement on Monday. “Seoul City should ban the festival and the parade.”

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