South Korean Human Rights Monitor


Comprehensive Anti-discrimination Act Withdrawal: Korea human rights situation back tracks

Eunju Jeong May 5, 2013

On the 21st of April, two members of the National Assembly of South Korea (the Democratic united-opposition-party) withdrew the motion on the Comprehensive Anti-discrimination Act. Since the beginning of 2000, they attempted to introduce the Anti-discrimination act two times both in 2007 and 2010, but unfortunately there was a strong apposition by both parties. In addition, religious affiliated organizations of South Korea resisted the bill on the basis of recognizing sexual minorities. Employer’s associations also felt pressure in regards to the improvement of employment conditions limited by age, academic ability, gender etc.

Two anonymous members of the National Assembly expressed the reason of the withdrawal of the Act is simply put, because they did not want to be labeled as pro North Korean or as a gay assemblyman. However, many human rights NGOs, and human rights defenders criticized the oblivion of the opposition party’s position. It is ironic that the Korean people are so proud of having a Korean head of the United Nations(UN) when behind the curtain they are afraid of enacting the legislation to implement the UN Human Rights Council(UNHRC) recommendations.

To be more specific, the UNHRC has adopted the working group report and the statement of the Korea government accepting 42 of 79 recommendations given from the Member States during the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). In the report, the Korean government pledged to enact the Comprehensive Anti-discrimination Act. Even though the recommendations from the UPR are not legally binding, international shame can not be avoided if they are not observed.

Instead of applying the legislation on the discrimination by sectoral marginal group, the Anti-discrimination Act comprehensively prohibits discrimination. As an universal human rights standard. the Act has become mainstream in the world, but Korea is still fighting for the gap.


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