A soldier has detailed what happened to him after he was caught up in South Korea’s hunt for gay people in the military.
While same-sex activity is legal in the country, the military bans it under Article 92-6. The law says it is in order ‘to keep the military community sound’. However, South Korea has a mandatory two year draft for all able-bodied male citizens.
Those caught could be placed in prison for six months to two years.
Military officers are actively searching for gay and bisexual men. According to campaigners, this witch-hunt has continued since 2017.
An anonymous soldier told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that he faces legal action even after leaving the military because his relationship with another soldier was caught.
The 27-year-old told the site: ‘I worked very hard as an officer, but none of that mattered when I became a suspect.
‘There were days when I just wanted to die.’
A witch hunt since 2017
Authorities arrested 22 soldiers during a 2017 inquiry into homosexual activity in the army – including this soldier. They found messages on his partner’s phone.
Luckily, they charged him on his last month of service. This meant his case was transferred to a civilian court, where he was acquitted.
This makes him the first soldier charged under the military sodomy law to be found not guilty.
Prosecutors are appealing the decision, leaving him in legal and social limbo before his next hearing. This jeopardize his civilian job and his relationship with his family.
He added: ‘It is as if my entire existence was being denied. I should never have been charged… in the first place.’
A defense ministry official told AFP: ‘The ban needs to remain in place as it is required to maintain a sound and wholesome lifestyle and discipline in the military, which is a communal institution.’
Author: Tom Capon
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