South Korea: Solidarity Messages Requested in wake of Suicide of Gay Youth Activist

FORWARDED ACTION ALERT

SUMMARY

This message is forwarded at the request of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transsexual Human Rights Federation (LGBTHRF) in Seoul, Korea. Activists and groups around the world are requested to send messages of solidarity TODAY to LFBTHRF upon the recent suicide of Ohkoodang, a 19-year old gay human rights activist who worked in the organization and denounced the Youth Protection Committee's classification of homosexuality as a "sexual perversion" and "obscenity". These solidarity messages will be read at his memorial service on the evening of Saturday, May 3, 2003.

ACTION

We need your SOLIDARITY MESSAGE.

Dear friends in struggle,

Greetings from Seoul, South Korea.

Let me introduce myself first. I am in charge of international solidarity of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transsexual Human Rights Federation (LGBTHRF) in Seoul, South Korea.

Here we need your solidary message on one 19 year old gay boy's sacrifice due to social discrimination against sexual minorities in our society.

His name is Okoodang, 19 years old, a devoted Catholic gay activist who worked for LGBTHRF. He committed suicide last Saturday (April 26, 2003) in our office. He left his will and said, "How cruel and anti-biblical it is to discriminate against sexual minorities. After death, I can proudly say I am gay, with no need to suffer, no need to hide myself anymore." And he left around USD300, which is all he had, and said, "Please use this money for the liberation of sexual minorities...Brothers and sisters, please don't forget that only your efforts can give impact for our next sexual minority generation..."

We remember that he is a very active member of our movement. When he was working for the office full-time, he replied to all questions on our homepage sincerely, wrote many poems and articles against discrimination against LGBT to many newspapers. And furthermore, he was the person who stood up in the front to do solidarity for justice and peace such as joining the rally against the war in Iraq under the rainbow flag.

We regard this as not just an individual death. It is really a social killing against LGBT groups because just recently one Korean newspaper run by a conservative Protestant church denounced the decision of the Korean National Human Rights Protection Committee, who requested the removal of all kinds of misconceptions on LGBT from textbooks and the removal of homosexuality from the list of sexual perversions, which blocked access for young LGBT in Korea from access to any kind of information about sexual minorities; these polices were imposed by the Korean Youth Protection Committee. Okoodang was the person who denounced this church-initiated newspaper and the Youth Protection Committee. He wanted to demonstrate discrimination against LGBT by his death.

With deep anger against all forms of discrimination and deep sadness on the sacrifice of our friend, we humbly request you to send your solidarity messages to us. We will organize a memorial service this coming Saturday (May 3) evening. It will be most appreciated if you send your solidarity message to us before this memorial service.

Please send this news to all our friends as widely as you can. You can contact me via e-mail: uhmkiho@empal.com. (Our offices are temporarily closed due to several security reasons, so please use the above e-mail.)

Thanks,

LGBTHRF-Korea

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

For further information about the policies and practicies of the Korean Youth Protection Committee against which Okoodang rigorously protested, please see the following:

  • "Republic of Korea: Bigotry and Censorship Masquerade as Protection of Youth," August 23, 2001
  • "Republic of Korea: Censorship of Gay and Lesbian Internet Sites Takes Effect," January 7, 2002
  • "Republic of Korea: Homosexuality Removed from Classification of 'Harmful and Obscene' in Youth Protection Law," April 23, 2003