A LAWSUIT filed by one of South Korea’s most prolific film directors seeking legal status for their gay marriage has been rejected by a district court, the first case of its kind in the country.
Kim Jho Gwang-soo and his partner Kim Seung-hwan filed the lawsuit after the Seodaemun district office refused to recognize their marriage registration after they married in 2013.
According to KBS World Radio, Chief Judge Lee Tae-jong of the Seoul Western District Court ruled that the union of two people of the same gender cannot be recognized as a marriage because South Korean law is based on the assumption that marriage can only be between a man and a woman.
The court said in a statement that although “circumstances” regarding marriage have changed in recent time, a same-sex union “cannot be recognized as marriage under the existing legal system”.
In an AFP report published by the Guardian, Seung-hwan said they regretted the court’s decision but “we did see it coming”.
The lawsuit argued that the civil law should be seen through a “gender-neutral prism”, said the couple’s lawyer, Ryu Min-hee. The “prism” should work to uphold equal rights provision in the constitution and all laws should be interpreted in the same way, he added.
“We’re disappointed but we’re not done yet,” said Min-hee.
Homosexuality is legal in South Korea, but gay marriage is not recognized and attitudes towards homosexuality and other issues on sexual identity are still deeply conservative.
Ghwang-so, who also goes by the name Peter Kim, is a prominent film maker and LGBT activist in South Korea. His filmography includes films containing themes surrounding LGBT issues.
He said in an interview with Korea JoongAng Daily in March 2015 that as a filmmaker, his “sense of duty as a queer filmmaker” is to make “enlightenment films with strong messages”.