S Korean gay granted refugee status in Canada

Updated: 2011-12-15 14:30


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SEOUL - A South Korean man received refugee status from Canada in 2009 after he objected to the compulsory military in his home country for being a homosexual and an advocate of peace, a local human rights group said Thursday.

The Center for Military Human Rights in Korea said the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) accepted the appeal of 30-year-old Kim Kyung-hwan and granted the status in July 2009.

According to the rights group, IRB expressed concerns over the circumstances facing general South Korean conscripts, homosexuals in particular.

"It is highly likely that the applicant will be abused when he goes back to his home country because he has to serve in the mandatory military service," the center quoted IRB as saying.

IRB even mentioned a case in which a South Korean gay man experienced serious depression and suicidal thought after being harassed in the military, the rights group said.

Kim's case marks the first time in South Korea that a man seeks asylum in a foreign country to refuse the military conscription due to his homosexuality.

"Since I was little, I couldn't sympathize with the military and war at all," Kim was quoted by the Yonhap news agency as saying. "I have no regrets (about leaving South Korea) as I had great worries about possible human rights abuses I could have suffered as a homosexual."

In South Korea, all able-bodied men over 20 are required to serve in the military for about two years.