Korean Twitter marks IDAHOT by showing us what is #StillLGBTdiscrimination

This is part of a series of articles exploring LGBT issues in Korea in the run up to Pride 2016.

The 17th May is known as International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia where people around the world take a stand against discrimination and stand up for LGBT rights. Here in the UK, and I’m sure other countries, where we now have reasonable, if still not perfect, equality legislation, it felt like a fairly subdued affair with some Pride flags raised here and there but for the Korean LGBT community IDAHOT is a chance to make its voice heard.

This year a cheerful, upbeat campaign song was chosen complete with dancing flashmob filmed last Friday in Seoul.

The day also generated a fair amount of media coverage, particularly among the more liberal leaning outlets, including coverage by the Hankyoreh, Asia Economic Daily and Huffington Post Korea. Of course, with that coverage came a lot of ignorant and offensive comments (many with a strange fixation on anal sex) but they also gathered a decent amount of positive responses with many people stepping in to take on some of the ruder commenters.

More than anything, IDAHOT showed how much Korean Twitter is the bastion of the young, liberal voice in Korea where the hashtag #이것도_성소수자_혐오야 or “This is also LGBT discrimination” trended throughout most of the day. The tag took aim not at the bigots who actively set out to discriminate against sexual minorities, as is the preferred term in Korea, but the young more seemingly liberal people who, perhaps unwittingly, still manage to say offensive things. More than anything the tweets show where Korea’s younger generation is in terms of understanding and acceptance of LGBT people.


Everything that comes after “I’m not a homophobe but…” #StillLGBTdiscrimination

Lesbians who are pretty are all good, right? #StillLGBTdiscrimination

He’s gay? What a pity.. #StillLGBTdiscrimination

Her face is pretty and she’s not lacking anything so why does she date girls? #StillLGBTdiscrimination

You lot should just live well but keep to yourselves. #StillLGBTdiscrimination

Gays are fine but I don’t like lesbians

Lesbians are fine but I don’t like gays

Gays and lesbians are fine but I don’t like trangenders #StillLGBTdiscrimination

Why do your kind live so loudly and strangely? #StillLGBTdiscrimination

I acknowledge homosexuality but why do you need to get married? When you can’t even conceive children? Can’t the two of you just live in one house? #StillLGBTdiscrimination

In our fascination with ‘Korean reactions’ to anything and everything, a lot of Korean entertainment fans and amateur Korea-watchers have a tendency to conflate a few choice comments into the opinion of the majority of the Korean public. This is often not at all the case and, as we have noted before, there is a massive generational gap when it comes to understanding and accepting sexual minorities. So while conservative news channels are worried all the kids are turning gay and same sex kisses are being banned in entertainment, on Twitter, a nuanced, progressive conversation about what discrimination looks like was one of the biggest talking points of the day. Just goes to show there’s never just one universal ‘Korean opinion’.

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