May 14 2020
“Stopping Hate and Discrimination is the Surest Way to Keep Our Community Safe”
-NHRCK Chairperson’s Statement on International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia on May 17-
Some local media focused on the sexual and gender minority status of confirmed patients, rather than test results or quarantine measures, in their reporting of the cluster of COVID-19 cases that were recently identified in Seoul, sparking criticism and hatred towards the LGBTI community. This may cause LGBTI people to avoid testing for fear of having their identity or personal information disclosed to the public, which in turn will make it harder to contain the spread of the virus.
Against this backdrop, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released the COVID-19 guidance on May 8, calling on States to take firm action against the distribution of inaccurate information that fuels stigmatization and hatred against LGBTI people and avoid scapegoating them in disaster situations like the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fortunately, health authorities and local governments announced that they would expand anonymous testing and limit public disclosure of personal movements to minimize exposure of private information. Some politicians spoke out against stigmatization and hatred towards LGBTI individuals. The president of the Journalists Association of Korea called for an end to media reports that incite hatred and discrimination. Stopping hate and discrimination against LGBTI people is the surest way to keep our community safe and healthy.
An emergency task force on protection of LGBTI rights in the COVID-19 crisis said in a press conference on May 12 that it will closely communicate with health authorities to encourage those who have been to certain areas to come forward for COVID-19 testing. This example of fighting pandemic based on mutual trust signals a positive change for our society.
Despite all these efforts, sexual and gender minorities still have to endure the risk of being the target of hate and discrimination when their personal information is revealed if they want to get tested for coronavirus.
Given the particular vulnerabilities of LBGTI people, the Commission calls on the government to make sure that it does not request information not necessary for the diagnosis of COVID-19. Furthermore, the Commission urges some media that stoke hatred and discrimination against the LBGTI community by disclosing information unrelated to the pandemic to comply with the reporting guidelines that call for respect for human rights. For its part, the Commission will pay special attention to the incidents of hate and discrimination against LBGTI individuals and remain committed to eliminating prejudice and hatred towards them.
May 17 is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. The Commission hopes that we will be able to set a good example for the international community by successfully countering hatred and discrimination against sexual and gender minorities during the COVID-19 pandemic.