The following was sent out by Jihye Kim on Dec. 20, 2011
Dear friends and colleagues,
We [ LGBT occupiers in Seoul ] won the Seoul Student Rights Ordinance with all SOGI related clauses in the original draft included! Today [ Dec. 20, 2011 ] around 6:30 p.m., the draft that states non-discrimination against LGBT students, as well as active protection for LGBT students, passed the Council with vote of 54 in favor, 28 against, and 4 abstention.
In fact, the critical moment today was to pass the Educational Committee of the [ Seoul Metropolitan ] Council before the plenary session. As some of you might remember, the Committee tried to delete the clauses on LGBT students, and that was what we mostly had to fight against. As of yesterday, we could only expect 7 out of 15 members of the Committee at the maximum who would be in favor the original language. The Chair of the Committee was very resistant to the draft and even reportedly attempted to fail the bill completely by delaying their decision were it to include SOGI-related clauses. However, this morning, the original language passed the Committee with the vote of 8 in favor, 6 against, and 1 abstention.
It happened after the 6 days of protest of LGBT young people and activists, day and night. This is a significant progress in our LGBT history, because we fought face-to-fact against the homophobic individuals and groups, including many members of the Council, and completely won with legitimacy on our side. The Council had serious debates on SOGI issues in their plenary session for the first time in our history, and one of the Council members read out Ban Ki-Moon's speech that was cited in the recent OHCHR's report. That was the moment that the voices of LGBT people began to be heard, and LGBT people's human rights are recognized.
The Seoul Student Rights Ordinance was not the first one that contained clauses on LGBT students. There were two other local ordinances that contained such non-discrimination clauses. However, that did not have actual impact on students, because the ordinances were not something that we won through this kind of fight. The SOGI did not become an issue, and the language in the ordinances remained as if dead letters.
The Seoul ordinance is different. We fought, and we won. We debated, and we taught people. And we know that it was all possible because of support from a lot of people--including IGLHRC and so many of you who participated in and passed along the petition and sent us support statement. Your message was delivered to the members of the Council. Truly, the whole process was more educational than just political, and we know that now we have a better ground to resume our work towards legislation of anti-discrimination law, which we failed in 2007.
I'd like to share a photo of the historical moment. It was so beautiful see the rainbow in front of the Council building. Now we see the change of tones on LGBT people in the media. History has begun on our side.
Thank you all for your wonderful support.
Dec. 15, 2011
Sit-in Protest Begun: Seoul Student Rights Ordinance, ROK
Dear friends and colleagues,
Thank you for your interest that you've shown since I emailed you yesterday. We appreciate your support to keep the clauses prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the Seoul Student Rights Ordinance bill.
As of 2p.m. today ( Dec. 14, 2011 ) , the Common Action for LGBT Students, a coalition of individual activists, lawyers, and human rights groups, has begun sit-in protest at the building of the Seoul Metropolitan Council. Around 30 people, including LGBT young people and activists, are currently participating in the protest ( Writing at 12:50 a.m. in Seoul ) and the protest will continue day and night until we get our message delivered to the members of the Committee.The protest was sparked when we learned that the Committee moves to take out any reference from the draft to sexual orientation and gender identity. In particular, we hear that the Committee might offer to take out entire lists of prohibited grounds from the non-discrimination clause and others in the bill, and simply state the non-discrimination principle.
We know such broad statement will be plainly meaningless particularly for LGBT students, because it cannot be more clear that the intent is to avoid obligations to protect LGBT students. Such outcome will justify the threats, bullying, and homophobic remarks against LGBT students that are currently happening at school settings by students as well as teachers and principals, and thereby intensify discriminations. We are also deeply concerned that such outcome would even further delay legislation of an anti-discrimination law that would protect LGBT people, as the substantive and symbolic significance of Seoul in S. Korea cannot be exaggerated.
As you might know, the Education Committee will review the bill draft on 16 December, and it's critical to have the Committee pass the current draft with all the clauses included. We need your continuous interest and support.
Here's a link to a news article ( in Korean ) with some photos of the sit-in protest scene. http://www.newscham.net/news/view.php?board=news&nid=64316
The petition page is: