SEOUL, May 26 (Korea Bizwire) – South Korea’s first domestic trial on same-sex marriage concluded with the final decision that current domestic laws ultimately do not permit marriage between members of the same sex.
On May 25, the president of Seoul Western District Court Tae Jong Lee took the final decision to dismiss an appeal made by the celebrity same-sex couple of film director Jo Gwang Su Kim (age 51) and ‘Rainbow Factory’ representative Seung Hwan Kim (age 32) in Seodaemun-gu.
The trial followed the couple’s submission of marriage registration documents at a Seoul district office following their public wedding in September 2013. The marriage registration was denied on the grounds that same-sex marriages do not satisfy the legal definition of husband and wife.
“Even though circumstances surrounding marriage have changed socially and internationally, a same-sex union cannot be accepted as a marriage only with a legal interpretation under current laws, without any modifications to existing legislation,” said Lee Tae-jong, chief judge of the Seoul Western District Court.
Lee further pointed out that the current legal system of South Korea stipulates marriage as a union between individuals of different sexes, emphasizing that the Supreme Court and Constitutional Court also defined marriage the same way.
“The interpretation of marriage cannot be extended to include a union for the purpose of living together for life based on the love between two people,” added Lee. The chief judge also dismissed the argument that a refusal to accept a same-sex marriage contravenes the constitutional principle of equality.
The plaintiffs, however, presented a different interpretation of the legislation when they filed their appeal in May of 2014.
“Nowhere in civil law exists a prohibition against same-sex marriage, and if civil law is interpreted in light of a constitutional amendment about freedom and equality of marriage, same-sex marriages should also be recognized as legitimate,” argued Kim.
The judge then sent the issue over to the National Assembly’s court, stating that the decision to legally recognize same-sex marriage is an issue that should be settled through public discussion and legislative determination.
By Esther J. Kim (firstname.lastname@example.org)