The Supreme Court of Seoul has just made a landmark decision that restores equality for all couples.
Consequently, the legal status of LGBTQ+ couples is recognized and applied to national health insurance coverage - the first of its kind in South Korea - representing an unprecedented victory for same-sex couples.
After two long years of arduous legal battles, So Sung-uk and Kim Yong-min ultimately achieved a major victory for South Korean same-sex couples. The Supreme Court of Seoul delivered a landmark ruling, acknowledging the right of same-sex couples to share equal insurance benefits with heterosexual couples. This groundbreaking decision brings much-needed hope and relief to members of the LGBTQ+ community in South Korea.
In 2019, So Sung-uk and Kim Yong-min proudly held their wedding ceremony with over 300 guests, despite the country's lack of legal marriage recognition. Then, they applied for health insurance in 2020 under the National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) with each other as dependents, but due to media attention to their story, the NHIS later revoked their coverage, citing an administrative mistake.
At the court hearing, So and Kim argued that couples should receive equal spousal benefits regardless of whether they are heterosexual or homosexual. And the Seoul High Court granted them a historic victory! In fact, after taking into consideration the couple's relationship in its comprehensive judgment, the court recognized their rights and set a positive precedent for South Korea.
The couple and their lawyer celebrated this decision as a major victory, providing a favorable precedent that stops the state from impeding the rights of same-sex couples. This ruling gives reason for optimism to those striving to end discrimination towards same-sex couples and contributes to creating a new balance in civil rights.
Nevertheless, the South Korean National Health Insurance Service is now conducting legal reviews to ascertain whether this ruling should be challenged in the Supreme Court.
South Korea recently made a major milestone in the pursuit of equality and justice with a ruling that restores equality for all couples. This progressive move has been praised by human rights activists around the world. But, despite this stride of acceptance towards South Korean LGBTQ+ couples, there is still a need for political action to implement anti-discrimination laws that can protect the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals. Polls have shown majority support for such laws, yet, they remain unimplemented due to a lack of consensus among political parties. It is now vital that this progress be continued with concrete protective measures to ensure everyone has access to basic human dignity.