The South Korean government is currently reviewing a military law that bans same-sex sexual activity between servicemen—who can be imprisoned for up to two years if found guilty of ‘sodomy’ or ‘disgraceful conduct’.
The South Korean Army has been using the 1962 Military Criminal Act’s Article 92-6 to crack down on gay servicemen in what Amnesty International has described as “an outrageous military gay witch hunt”.
In May this year, a soldier was convicted of having a same-sex relationship and was given a six-month prison sentence, suspended for one year.
Roseann Rife, the East Asia Research Director at Amnesty International said the conviction should be “immediately overturned”.
“No-one should be persecuted based on their sexual orientation, activity or gender identity alone. What counts is their service not their sexuality,” she said.
The Military Human Rights Centre for Korea reported this year that gay dating apps were being used by officials to entrap gay men in the military. The advocacy group also discovered that the phones of up to 50 men had been confiscated, and they had been urged to identify other gay men.
The government has now announced plans to submit a human rights report to the United Nations at the end of the month, clarifying its position on gay people serving in the military.
"We are reviewing the law so it will make the rules clearer for gay soldiers,” a statement from the government read—the Korea Times reports.
However, it’s unclear what these changes might be—with the statement seemingly defending the current law.
"In a given circumstance where only men stay together, the law is necessary to keep order. Punishment of gay soldiers also serves this purpose,” it read.
Human Rights Watch has previously called for an end to Article 92-6, saying that it leads to “abusive, discriminatory targeting of soldiers”.
“The government should order an investigation into allegations of abuses that have stemmed from the anti-gay sweep in the military, and begin the process of repealing the Military Criminal Act’s Article 92-6.”