Press briefing notes on Republic of Korea

OHCHR

In the Republic of Korea, there has been increased momentum in recent months in advocacy for a comprehensive equality bill that will address and help prevent all forms of discrimination, and provide effective remedies for victims. A petition was submitted in June this year with 100,000 signatures, calling on the National Assembly to enact such a law – a recommendation that many UN human rights mechanisms and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights have made over the years. Various bills have been tabled since 2007, but over these past 14 years, the National Assembly has consistently failed to take decisive action to enact a law.

We understand that the Legislation and Judiciary Committee of the National Assembly has postponed the deadline for responding to the petition until the end of this parliamentary cycle – May 2024. The adoption of the comprehensive equality bill is urgent and already long overdue. The Committee and the National Assembly should use this momentum to enact a robust and inclusive Equality Bill that would encompass the diverse grounds protected under international human rights law. These include discrimination based on race, colour, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, sex characteristics, language, religion or conviction, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, nationality, property, economic position, marital or other family status, birth, age, disability, health, migrant status, or any other status.

Such a law should provide legal protection and means of redress to all those suffering discrimination and hate crimes on these grounds. We have seen around the world, including in the Republic of Korea, that COVID-19 has exacerbated discrimination and hate speech against vulnerable groups, so it is more important than ever to ensure comprehensive legal protection and access to effective remedy for members of these groups.

The Office stands ready to assist the Republic of Korea in these essential efforts to ensure the equality and rights of all its people.

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