Narrow but Significant Win for LGBT Rights in South Korea

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02/23/2023

When a South Korean court this week delivered the country’s biggest legal victory for marriage equality, Kim Yong-min was immediately aware of how much – and how little – the ruling meant for LGBT rights. No one questioned the symbolic significance of Tuesday’s verdict, which found the 32-year-old Kim can list his partner as a dependent on his plan in South Korea’s national health insurance provider. It was the first time a South Korean court has ever recognized any right for same-sex couples. On the other hand, the victory was exceedingly limited, as Kim conceded in an interview with VOA. “When Koreans are married to someone of the opposite sex, they have about a thousand rights. We managed to get only one of those,” he said. Winning that right required a two-year legal battle for Kim and his husband, So Seong-wook. The couple held a wedding ceremony in 2019, but it was not legally recognized by South Korea, which does not acknowledge same-sex partnerships.

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