150,000 celebrate Pride Parade despite backlash

LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) parade participants take part in  celebrations during the 25th Seoul Queer Parade in Seoul, June 1. EPA-Yonhap

Some 150,000 people, including thousands of LGBTQ Koreans and their supporters gathered in central Seoul for annual Pride celebrations Saturday, despite the event’s traditional venue being put off limits by the authorities for the second consecutive year.

Same-sex marriage remains unrecognised in Asia’s fourth largest economy, and activists have long emphasised the need for legislation outlawing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

This year’s Pride Parade, marking its 25th anniversary and one of the largest in Asia, was denied permission to gather at the Seoul Plaza in front of City Hall, where the main festivities have traditionally been held.

Seoul’s conservative mayor, Oh Se-hoon, has said he “personally can’t agree with homosexuality,” but municipal authorities blamed a scheduling conflict and said the venue had already been reserved for an outdoor event themed around books.

It instead took place in the streets in central Seoul, with companies and organisations including the US embassy, IKEA and Amnesty International participating to show support.

Areas surrounding Seoul’s major thoroughfares Namdaemun-ro and Ujeongguk-ro were packed with excited participants 스포츠토토존 wearing rainbow-themed costumes and make-up, some blowing bubbles and many waving orange balloons — the theme colour for this year’s edition.

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