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KOREA - Aug 19, 2004

In July, Chief Judge Lee Sang-In dismissed a divorce suit in Incheon District Court regarding a lesbian couple of 21 years on the grounds that their lifestyle did not meet the definition of marriage in Korean society. It was the country's first such ruling on same-sex marriage.

The Korean Sexual Minority Culture and Rights Center and the Korean LGBT Coalition denounced the ruling as out-of-date and called for equal rights for homosexual couples as well as the creation of a social network to help support gay couples handle the problems they encounter.

Last March, two men held the first open gay wedding in Seoul. However their official registration was rejected by the local district office which said that Korean customs do not acknowledge the legitimacy of such a marriage.

Korea's Democratic Labor Party has created a committee for LGBT rights and its executive secretary, Bae Hong-Hyun, said that they plan to introduce the case for equal rights for gays in Parliament in September.

Read more on the growing public debate in a special report in The Korean Herald.


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