Seoul Police ban upcoming Korean Pride Parade

The future of this year’s Pride in Seoul is looking uncertain after a notice banning the parade in the planned route was issued by Seoul Metropolitan police.

The police issued the ban on the grounds that there were too many rallies planned for the same time, including opposing anti-LGBT demonstrations, and that it would cause too much disruption to traffic and pedestrians in the area.

The organisers of the parade are contesting the prohibition saying it is unreasonable and unjustifiable. They also announced their plans to fight the prohibition by liaising with other activist groups.

This comes after a controversial change in procedure for public assembly meaning the parade organisers and opponents had to queue outside of the police station for over a week.

The Korean Queer Culture Festival still has permission to use Seoul Plaza but this ruling means it is unlikely that the parade will be held in the manner originally planned.

Here is the Korean Queer Culture Festival’s official statement:

[T]his reasoning is not justifiable, given that the attendance at the KQCF has increased consistently over the past 15 years, while there has been no inconvenience to pedestrian or vehicular traffic on routes such as Cheonggye-daero, which is specified as a main street and where the Pride Parade has been held 4 times.

It is also unreasonable to assert that there will be ‘conflicting assemblies’, as the planned assembly is not interfering with pre-scheduled events. Plus, using the word ‘conflicting’ cannot even be justified, either. Conservative Christian groups intending to disrupt the KQCF Pride Parade scheduled for June 13th camped out in a tent in front of the Hyehwa Police Station for more than a week; this was one of the ‘simultaneous rallies’ cited in the police report. In addition, meetings were held with Hyehwa Police Station representatives after the parade had been reported, in the month preceding the parade, with the intent of interfering with the parade scheduled and reported by the KQCF Organizing Committee.

The decision of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency and Seoul Namdaemun-gu Police Station effectively ignores the wishes of citizens, who peacefully camped outside Namdaemun-gu Police Station, to hold a successful and peaceful festival and Pride Parade. Also, this is the decision suppressing the right of sexual minorities to speak up against the society, as well as the decision instigating hatred and violence against sexual minorities.

Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency and Seoul Namdaemun-gu Police Station should withdraw its ban on outdoor rallies on May 30th 2015 at once, and should guarantee the Pride Parade of KQCF to be held safely and peacefully. The KQCF Organizing Committee has already begun to seek the support of civil society, human rights, cultural, and women’s groups to support the KQCF in the eight days before the decision rendered by Namdaemun-gu Police Station. Our work will continue.

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