south korean city officials clash with police at protest against lgbtq festival
On Saturday, local officials, led by the mayor, fought with the police in the South Korean city of Daegu during a protest against an LGBTQ festival.
Christian groups and other people who didn’t like the Daegu Queer Culture Festival had asked for a temporary ban on it, but the police said it could go on.
Mayor Hong Joon-pyo backed them. He said earlier this month that the event could “teach teenagers the wrong sexual culture.”
The court turned down the injunction, and the parade, which has been happening every year since 2009, was allowed to go on. This led Hong and other critics to say the parade caused too much traffic. Last week, the police said that the parade would cause a lot of traffic in the area and that they would send people to help with the traffic.
Tensions peaked on Saturday when people from the local government showed up at the festival site to protest. In a video posted by the event’s organizers, vehicles for the festival are stuck on the road because protesters are blocking the way.
Photos show that a lot of police came to break up the protesters. They pushed through the crowd with shields and linked arms to make a human wall.
South Korean news agency Yonhap said there were about 500 protesters and 1,500 police officers at the scene. In the end, the festival went on, and the parade went as planned.
After that, Hong criticized the police on social media, saying that they were “hurting our public officials for the queer festival.” He also said that he would hold the police chief responsible, saying that the festival had been held “illegally” because the city government had not given permission for the organizers to use the road.
In a harsh reply, the police said that the festival was a “legal assembly” that could use public roads because the court had denied all of the opposition’s requests to stop the festival. It said that the festival had been held safely and without problems for 14 years, that the police were just doing their job of keeping people safe, and it told the mayor to “stop rambling.”
South Korean law says that people who want to hold meetings or demonstrations only need to tell the local police a few details, like an estimate of how many people will be there. Police can ban an event if it causes “serious inconvenience to traffic,” but in 2015, a Seoul court overturned a police ban on a pride parade, saying that it should only be banned if there is a “clear direct threat” to public peace and safety.
In a statement they released on Saturday, the Daegu police seemed to be referring to this case when they talked about “court precedents” on legal assemblies.
Local news sources say that Hong, the mayor of Daegu, has made headlines in the past for making anti-LGBTQ comments, such as saying that gay men would hurt the South Korean military.
South Korea has a lot of homophobia, and there aren’t any strong laws against discrimination to protect LGBTQ people. South Korea doesn’t have a law that allows same-sex marriage, and gay couples aren’t as accepted there as they are in Japan and Taiwan, which are also democracies.
Every year, opponents and religious groups often show up outside the Seoul Queer Culture Festival, which is the biggest pride festival in the country, and yell anti-LGBTQ slogans through loudspeakers.
The festival has been held in a grassy square in the middle of Seoul for many years. This year, however, the city government denied the festival’s request to use the court and instead gave permission for a Christian youth concert, which the festival organizers said was unfair.
Instead, the festival will happen on July 1 in the busy Euljiro area of Seoul.