South Korea recognizes same-sex couple rights in a historic first


It’s a historic moment for the LGBTQ+ community in South Korea!

A court made a ruling that recognized the rights of a same-sex couple for the first time.

In 2022, plaintiff So Seong-uk sued the National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) after it withdrew his status as a dependent to his partner, Kim Yong-min. Finding out they were gay, the company forced the couple were forced to make separate payments.

Although the So and Kim held a wedding in 2019, same-sex marriage is not recognized in South Korea.

A lower court threw out the case in January 2022, stating that legal marriage can only be between a man and a woman. But in a historic turn of events, the decision was overturned on Feb. 21.

NHIS then had to recognize So’s partner as his dependent and was made responsible for the legal fees of both parties.

“I feel delighted because I felt like the judges told us through this court decision that my feelings of love for my husband shall not be a target of curse, ignorance or insult,” So told The Korea Herald. “I can say with confidence that love wins, and discrimination or hate do not.”

“It took us such a long time to have our marriage status recognized within the legal framework,” Kim said.

LGBTQ+ individuals in South Korea still face discrimination, with only 38% of the public supporting same-sex marriage, according to a 2021 Gallup Korea report. Aside from same-sex marriage and civil unions being illegal, there’s no law protecting them from discrimination based on SOGIESC, they cannot jointly adopt, and consensual same-sex intercourse among soldiers is considered a crime in the military.

So’s lawyer, Park Han-hee, is hopeful that the ruling will continue to push for marriage equality in South Korea.

“If the court’s logic is the exclusion of same-sex couples from health insurance is unjust, then naturally, their exclusion from marriage should also be seen as unjust.”

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