By Kim Rahn
A local court has dismissed a petition by film director Kim Jho Gwang-soo who demanded the court legally recognize his marriage with his male partner Kim Seung-hwan.
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The Seoul Western District Court on Wednesday rejected the petition filed by the first gay couple to marry openly in Korea.
Kim Jho, 51, and Kim, 32, CEO of film production company Rainbow Factory, married in September 2013 and attempted to register the marriage with Seodaemun District Office in Seoul in December that year. But the office refused to make it legal, saying same-sex marriage is not a conjugal union recognized by civil law.
The couple then filed the petition, claiming the civil law does not “ban” same-sex marriage and such marriage should be recognized according to the Constitution that guarantees freedom and equality of marriage.
The court, however, rejected the claim, saying the current legal system says marriage is a union between a man and a woman and thus a same-sex union cannot be recognized as “marriage” unless the law is changed.
“Even though social recognition about marriage has changed, related laws, including the Constitution and civil law, are based on the premise that marriage is a union between a man and a woman,” it said. “So, we can’t interpret this arbitrarily that marriage is a union between two people regardless of sex.”
The court also said that not recognizing same-sex marriage does not violate the principle of equality. “Considering that marriage, childbirth and childcare build the basis for society’s sustainable development, a union between same-sex people is not fundamentally equal to that between a man and a woman.”
It added that the recognition of same-sex marriage should be decided through public opinion, multiple discussions and considerations and the legislative process at the National Assembly.