For the first time since 1990, the South Korea Pride Parade was rejected by the police.
Namdaemun Police Station and Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency denied permit for the march, expecting a standoff between LGBT and Christian groups.
Last year, groups affiliated to the Church laid on the road, blocking the parade. Their protest caused major traffic jams and created tension with the LGBT community. A witness in attendance recalled the standoff:
“The people on the floor were cordoned off by the police but it took police a long while to actually try to move the. Also, many of the protestors shouted at the pride goers and some spat at us too.”
This year, the Korea Queer Culture Festival (KQCF) applied for a public space to hold the parade with the Seoul Police Agency. The application was rejected as the space was already reserved by the “Love Your Country, Love Your Children Movement,” an anti-gay Christian group.
Members of the LGBT community tried to secure a new space in Namdaemun. Although the police station would only begin accepting applications May 29 for rallies to be held on June 28, members of the Christian group as well as the LGBT community lined up on May 20 to submit their application.
Both groups waited all day and night, with people taking turns to sleep and eat. Various groups and individuals donated food to the LGBT supporters waiting in line, which local delivery service The Bird Riders brought to the station.
Unfortunately their wait was in vein. On May 30, police issued a prohibition notice based on Article 8 of the Act on Assemblies and Demonstrations that banned both groups from holding street marches:
“Rallies may be banned wherever two or more rallies are planned by groups with conflicting goals and on Article 12 where rallies may be banned whenever there is a possibility of inconvenience to pedestrian and vehicle traffic.”
Kang Myung-jin, chief organizer of KQCF, requested a meeting with the head officer who made the decision. The police did not allow Kang to meet with them and turned them away. The KQCF released a press statement Monday:
“The decision is suppressing the right of sexual minorities to speak up against society, as well as instigating hatred and violence against sexual minorities. Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency and Seoul Namdaemun-gu Police Station should withdraw its ban on outdoor rallies on May 30th, 2015 at once, and should guarantee the Pride Parade at KQF to be held safely and peacefully.”