Thousands march in Seoul for Gay Pride parade

General view of the streets of Seoul, Korea, one of the host cities for the 2002 World Cup Photograph:( Getty )

AFP Seoul, South Korea Jun 11, 2016, 11.11 AM (IST)
Thousands marched through central Seoul Saturday during the city's annual Gay Pride parade, less than a month after a landmark court decision ruled against a homosexual couple's same-sex marriage.

Some 2,000 police were deployed along the parade route as hundreds of Christians turned out to protest the event, chanting slogans and holding up one sign in English that read: "Homosexual is sin. Return to Jesus".

Despite the protest and minor jeering, the march proceeded largely without incident. Some 5,000 participants marched in the parade, dancing and waving rainbow-coloured flags as music blared from accompanying vehicles.

"Leave us alone to live our life the way we want to," said Ranny, a 29-year-old participant from the United Kingdom, who added that he was there "to celebrate and be happy for who I am".

The annual Gay Pride parade comes weeks after a lawsuit filed by a prominent gay film director and his partner seeking legal status for their same-sex marriage was rejected by a South Korean district court in the first case of its kind

Movie director Kim Jho Gwang-Soo and his long-time partner Kim Seung-Hwan held a wedding ceremony in Seoul in September 2013 and submitted their marriage registration form to their local authority -- only for it to be rejected.

"I was disgusted. The court decision showed how backward this society still is despite the country's economic development", a 22-year-old female student participating in the parade said of the court decision.

While homosexuality is not illegal in South Korea, same-sex marriage is not recognised and the country remains deeply conservative about matters of sexual identity.