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Seoul Student Rights Ordinance Passed with SOGI Clauses Included!

in KOREA, REPUBLIC OF, 19/12/2011

The Seoul Student Rights Ordinance passed with all SOGI related clauses in the original draft included!

On December 19, 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 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.

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