May 15, 2020 at 1:29 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
South Korea activists form task force to fight coronavirus-fueled discrimination
Members of Queer Action against COVID-19 speak at a press conference in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo courtesy of Sung-Uk So)

A group of activists in South Korea have formed a task force to fight anti-LGBTQ discrimination related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sung-Uk So on Thursday told the Washington Blade in an email that seven LGBTQ advocacy groups decided to form Queer Action Against COVID-19. So said 17 organizations are now part of the task force.

So said the eight activists who form “the core” of Queer Action Against COVID-19 work on a host of issues that include the promotion of health care and media outreach. So told the Blade the task force is also “directly cooperating with Seoul City and the government.”

“We are trying to communicate with the government whenever a human rights violation occurs, and in fact, communication with the city of Seoul is going smoothly,” So told the Blade. “We are currently working at meetings with Seoul city officials or talking on the phone with them. However, communication with other local governments should be sought.”

Johns Hopkins University of Medicine’s Coronavirus Resource Center notes there are 11,018 confirmed coronavirus cases in South Korea and 260 deaths.

The South Korean government’s efforts to control the pandemic — that include widespread testing — have been applauded around the world. Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon on May 9 ordered the closure of all bars and nightclubs in the South Korean capital after a cluster of new coronavirus cases was linked to them.

The New York Times reported a 29-year-old man who tested positive had visited several bars and nightclubs in Itaewon, one of Seoul’s nightlife districts. Local media reports indicate many of the establishments he visited are popular among LGBTQ South Koreans.

“Many media in South Korea send out articles that discriminate against gay people,” So told the Blade. “They release the news as if the infection was due to just gay people. Other specific cases that we are dealing with individually are difficult to disclose to protect the victims.”

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Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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