south korea court landmark ruling recognises same sex couple’s rights
Last updated on February 22nd, 2023 at 11:08 am
The South Korean court has recognized the rights of a same-sex couple for the first time, with activists hailing the verdict as a major victory for LGBTQ equality.
The ruling on Tuesday – which will now go to the Supreme Court – was brought by a gay couple, So Seong-wook and Kim Yong-min. As a result of discovering he and Kim were gay, the National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) terminated Kim’s benefits in 2021 after he registered them as dependents.
In a landmark ruling, a South Korean court recognized the rights of a same-sex couple for the first time, hailing the decision as a major victory for LGBTQ equality.
The ruling in the case on Tuesday – which will now go to the Supreme Court – was brought by a gay couple, So Seong-wook and Kim Yong-min. After the National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) discovered that So and Kim were gay, the service terminated their benefits and so they sued in 2021.
South Korea does not recognize same-sex marriages, so So and Kim’s marriage had no legal validity.
According to Ryu Minhee, a member of the team of lawyers who represented the plaintiff in the Seoul High Court ruling, this is the “first recognition of the legal status of a same-sex couple”.
It had been ruled in favor of the NHIS last year, but the High Court in Seoul overturned that decision on Tuesday, effectively ordering the insurance provider to reinstate benefits to So’s partner.
According to Yonhap News Agency, So’s partner Kim said after the ruling that his rights have been recognized by the legal system.
“This represents a victory for all who seek equality for same-sex couples.”
NHIS told the AFP news agency that it would appeal the court’s decision.
According to the Yonhap News Agency, the court acknowledged that it was difficult to recognize same-sex marriages under the country’s current common-law marriage laws.
In spite of this, same-sex marriages are fundamentally identical to common-law marriages, except that they are homosexual, since they form the union based on emotional and economic needs, as well as duties to support and remain faithful to each other,” Yonhap quoted the court as saying.
According to Yonhap, the court ruled that removing spousal insurance benefits “constitutes discrimination based on sexual orientation”.