South Korean Textbooks Return to Homophobia

koreanrainbow's picture

The Special Taskforce from Korean Christian Churches on Textbooks, Homosexuality & Same-sex Marriage (Senior Representative: Kim Young-jin, Co-Representative Hwang Woo-yeo, Kim Myeong-gyu, Jeon Yong-tae) invited 20 delegates from political and religious sectors including congressman Lee Hyae-hoon and Lee Hak-jae from the Saenuri Party and congressman Yoo Ki-hong from the Democratic Party on the 4th at the National Assembly Building. They had a breakfast meeting at the VIP restaurant on the 3rd floor of the main building. In this meeting, The Ministry of Education decided to object to mention in the 'Life and Ethics' textbooks that mention that homosexuals should not be discriminated against.

During the breakfast meeting, Democratic Party congressman Yoo Ki-hong (who is also the assistant administrator of the Education and Culture Committee in the National Assembly) mentioned "I have received a verbal agreement from the Ministry of Education that the several publishers will mention an objection about the textbooks that are in favor of homosexuality" in his greeting statement. He also added "We have agreed with the Ministry of Education to remove the sentence 'Homosexuality is not a mental disorder' from the 'Life and Ethics' textbook published from Kyohaksa and to remove the parts about homosexuality or add an objection on the statement from the textbook published from Cheonjae Kyo-yook."

The statements that congressman Yoo is referring to are "Homosexuality has nothing to do with AIDS." and "Homosexuality is medically normal."

Now, I did some research and found the actual press statement from this special taskforce. It mentioned three things and here are the bullet points.

#1. The Ministry of Education should give back the right to teach religion to Christian schools so that their school motto can be upheld.

#2. The Minster of Education should make the comments about Christianity in Korean textbooks "fair." The taskforce said that Korean history textbooks mention other religions (Buddhism, Confucianism, Catholicism, Cheondogyo and even folk beliefs) in detail and Christianity, even though Christianity has played a major role in the last 100 years, is not mentioned as much as the other religions.

#3. The Minster of Education should make amendments on textbooks that encourage homosexuality, which is clearly regarded as abnormal from the majority of Koreans, and on the Human Rights Act of Seoul. Not only did they mention that the textbooks should be republished, but also the Student Rights Ordinance should be amended. Here are their words: "The current Seoul Metropolitan Student Rights Ordinance states that sexual orientation and sexual identity should not be a reason for discrimination. This act creates the misunderstanding that homosexuality and sexual identity are identical to race. Also this act makes schools teach homosexual acts, violates the rights of students and faculty members who are against homosexuality, and creates other problems. Therefore, sexual orientation should be discarded from the list of reasons of non-discrimination."

This is a sad day for Korean teenage sexual minorities. My church, Open Doors Community Church, an open and affirming church, will be protesting this decision.