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Korean bishops concerned about anti-discrimination law

Several earlier attempts to outlaw LGBTI discrimination failed after the issue became contentious

UCA News reporter, Seoul

UCA News reporter, Seoul

Published: September 14, 2020 10:09 AM GMT

Updated: September 14, 2020 10:19 AM GMT

Korean bishops concerned about anti-discrimination law

Thousands of LGBT South Koreans take part in a Pride Parade in Seoul in June 2019. (Photo: YouTube)

Catholic bishops in South Korea have expressed concerns about an anti-discrimination bill debated in the national parliament.

The Bioethics Committee of the Catholic Church of Korea expressed concerns about the bill that aims to end all forms of discrimination, including those against LGBTI people.

"The anti-discrimination legislation should not overlook the special meaning and role of the sex and love of men and women, marriage between men and women, and the family community," said the statement signed by committee head Bishop Mathias Lee Yong-hoon.

The anti-discrimination bill was proposed on June 29 by the Justice Party. Since 2006, six other attempts to enact an anti-discrimination law failed after provisions to outlaw LGBTI discrimination turned contentious.

Bishop Lee issued the statement last week on behalf of the national bishops' conference. It reiterated the importance of "sex and love, marriage and family between men and women" while expressing disapproval of same-sex and transgender marriages.

The marriage between men and women who raise children through sexual activity, a unique expression of marital love, is essential for human beings to be born and grown up to their dignity, the statement said.

"Therefore, in the name of non-discrimination, the special importance of sex and love, marriage, and family between men and women should not be overlooked or ignored."

Rights group Amnesty International says discrimination against LGBTI people in South Korea continues to exist in various forms, some of which are institutionalized. Consensual same-sex activity between adults continues to be criminalized in the military, even though it is not outlawed for the general public.

Almost all men undergo military service, spending at least 21 months in an environment where stigmatization or even violence against LGBTI people is institutionalized, Amnesty said.

The proposed law should not violate the rights of children. The spread of artificial childbirth, selective abortions and genetic manipulation, and the adoption by LGBTI people can violate children's rights, it said.

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The church statement also stressed the importance of school education in Korean society, "where humans are instrumentalized as objects of sexual pleasure." Education is an opportunity for children and adolescents to learn the healthy meaning of human sexuality, it said.

The Church has always stood against "all forms of discrimination in human fundamental rights, whether social or cultural, or attributable to gender, race, color, social status, language or religion, are contrary to God's will and must be overcome and eliminated," Bishop Lee said, quoting from Pope Francis' encyclical Amoris Laetitia.

The law will fail to meet its purpose if it "undermines the anthropological basis of marriage and the family community."

The law should be acceptable to "basic common sense and the common good of human society," said the statement.

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