South Korea queer festival turned violent, organizers say

Participants at a queer festival for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people in South Korea were harassed and injured on Saturday, event organizers say. File Photo by Kim Chul-soo/EPA

Sept. 11 (UPI) —¬†Organizers of a queer festival for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people in South Korea say police did not do enough to curb violence at the event held in the city of Incheon over the weekend.

Spokespeople for the festival said Monday during a press conference the “police sat and watched, while the number of injured continued to rise,” local news service Newsis reported Tuesday.

More than 30 people were injured and anti-gay Christian groups who staged an opposing rally, according to the festival’s sources, occupied the festival, the first of its kind in Incheon.

When anti-gay group members engaged in hate speech, police did nothing to restrain them, organizers said.

Lee Hye-yeon of the Incheon Queer Festival said the venue reserved for the event could not be used, and police wound up “isolating” the group.

“When the opposing party’s behavior became more violent, police blocked them, but they ended up isolating the queer festival,” Lee said.

Lee also said police told festival participants to “lower the [pride] flag” while marching, or handed over loudspeakers to the anti-gay groups opposing the event.

Local newspaper Hankyoreh reported Tuesday that event participants were sealed off from leaving the public space because of opposition rallies, and could not leave to have a meal or access public restrooms.

About 1,000 people opposing the festival were present on Saturday, according to police estimates.

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