Conflict deepening between Seoul gov’t, LGBT festival organizers

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9/23/21

A conflict is deepening between the Seoul Metropolitan Government and organizers of the annual Seoul Queer Culture Festival (SQCF), following the city government’s recent decision to reject the latter’s application to be registered as a non-profit organization. The Seoul Queer Culture Festival (SQCF) Organizing Committee, consisting of members of the LGBTQ community and their allies, has been holding the annual festival in central Seoul since 2000. The festival calls for human rights for sexual minorities and the eradication of discrimination. The committee filed an application to the city government in October 2019 to be registered as a non-profit organization. After nearly two years of review, the city sent a letter to the committee, turning down its application, on Aug. 25. The city government explained that its decision was based on a history of reports of indecent exposure by the participants in its cultural events, such as at its parades and film festivals. It also cited booths at cultural events selling products depicting genitalia, saying that such activities potentially violate certain laws. According to Korea’s criminal law, those who distribute, sell or openly display “obscene” documents, pictures, films or other objects can be subject to imprisonment of up to one year or fines of up to 5 million won. In addition, it said that the annual event requires the local government to mobilize “excessive” administrative resources in order to prevent physical conflicts with anti-gay protesters.

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