[생글기자 코너] How to Reduce Homophobia in Korea
Since the WHO removed homosexuality from its list of diseases in 1990, the developed world has been exhibiting more tolerance to the LGBTQ community than ever. However, South Korea remains LGBTQ-unfriendly despite its recent UNCTAD classification as a developed country.

The grounds behind Korea’s stunt growth in LGBTQ tolerance may be of the following reasons.

Christianity is a common cause of homophobia not only in Korea but in many countries. If there is a difference, religious groups in South Korea are highly influential in the political world. This discourages politicians from pursuing LGBTQ-friendly policies such as the anti-discrimination law.

Confucianism is deeply rooted in Korean society, influencing many parts of life ranging from moral precepts to family traditions. This causes the Korean society to be less tolerant of LGBTQ culture mainly because of concerns about ‘keeping the family intact’.

The model of an ideal family in the Confucian value system is highly patriarchal. The son becomes the ‘head of the household’ once his parents grow old, becoming responsible for taking care of his parents and siblings as the ‘breadwinner’ of the family. However, many view gay or transgender individuals as incapable of this position since they are considered financially unstable and incapable of social success.

Another influencing factor is that LGBTQ identity evades core Confucian values related to filial piety. A famous quote from 《The Classic of Filial Piety》, “身體髮膚 受之父母 不敢傷 孝之始也”, states that “Your body, including hair and skin, is what you inherited from your parents; preserving them is the beginning of your duty towards them.” In the context of this teaching, ‘changing’ the gender genetically inherited from your parents can be considered a serious disrespect towards them.

South Korea needs more laws that restrict the lobbying of religious groups. Political transparency will be able to encourage the establishment of policies related to LGBTQ rights and will therefore help create a safer environment for LGBTQ individuals.

To reduce Confucian prejudices against these communities, there is a need to implement LGBTQ education in public school curricula. Further efforts must be taken to ensure LGBTQ rights, as sexuality should never be a cause of any form of discrimination, coercion or violence.

김예림 생글기자(서일중 3년)