SEOUL, Jul. 17 (Korea Bizwire) — Tens of thousands of people colored Seoul with rainbows as they marched through the center of the capital on Saturday, sending a defiant message of solidarity in support of LGBT rights.
Despite the harsh weather conditions, this year’s pride parade, which took place as part of the Korea Queer Culture Festival (KQCF) that goes on until this weekend, drew a record number of some 85,000 people, according to festival organizers.
As the march began from Seoul Plaza, performers on trucks led thousands of people through the streets of Jongno and Myeongdong, some of the busiest areas in Seoul, with many onlookers cheering them on and waving their hands at the participants, while some appeared to be rather confused.
One truck stood out as it was themed after the South Korea military, in reference to the alleged gay witch hunt that saw an army captain sentenced to six months in jail for having had sexual intercourse with another man while serving in the military.
Around 100 booths were also set up by university groups, human rights organizations, and officials from the embassies of 14 countries that share a favorable view of LGBT rights, including the U.S., the U.K., Germany and France, to show solidarity and sell goods, the proceeds of which were earmarked to support LGBT causes.
Kim Jong-dae, a member of the Justice Party who participated in this year’s KQCF, said, “Sexual minorities have a right to be happy and have their human rights protected.”
Despite the growing support, this year’s KQCF also faced a backlash from religious and conservative political groups.
A group opposing the festival held a sign that read “Homosexuality is Sin! Return to Jesus!” as the march took place.
Previously, Christian civic groups issued a statement condemning homosexuality, in which the groups argued approaching homosexuality as a human rights issue and sexuality should be avoided.
Support and media coverage for the Korea Queer Culture Festival has been growing steadily, compared to 2000 when the event first began with only dozens of participants, as the annual LGBT festival now attracts thousands of people every year.
Hyunsu Yim (firstname.lastname@example.org)