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The NHRCK found it discriminatory to apply stricter standards and disallow a university sexual minority club from posting promotional materials.
Recommended that the president of the university take steps to prevent such discrimination and to conduct educational programs to increase awareness of discrimination.
On June 19, 2023, the National Human Rights Commission of the Republic of Korea (Chairperson: Song Doo-hwan, hereinafter referred to as the “Commission”) made a recommendation to the president of OOO University (hereinafter referred to as the “Respondent”) to prepare measures to prevent recurrence of discriminatory acts based on sexual orientation in the use of educational facilities and to provide education to the university’s faculty and staff to improve their awareness on discrimination against sexual minorities.
The Complainants (students of OOO University) filed a complaint with the Commission alleging that the Respondent's refusal to approve the posting of advertising materials for the recruitment of members of the Sexual Minority Club (hereinafter "the Club"), by withholding approval on the grounds that the Club's posting was a sensitive matter and different from other clubs, constituted discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. .
The Respondent replied that the posting was disallowed not because of their sexual orientation, but because the post was anonymous and lacked management and supervision by a professor.
The Discrimination Remedy Committee found that only one of the five club promotional materials approved by the Respondent for publication in 2022 was published under the guidance of a supervising professor, and that one of the approved materials was approved without the disclosure of personal information. Therefore, the committee found that the respondent treated the club adversely by applying stricter standards based on sexual orientation in the process of reviewing the club's approval to post promotional materials.
In addition, the Respondent argued that in order to prevent criminal acts using the university's student organizations or anonymous users' KakaoTalk chat, only the promotional materials in which the real names of the writers are identified may be posted. However, the Respondent's "Guidelines for the Management of Postings" require that the writer's affiliation, name, and contact information be included in the application when requesting permission to post, thereby enabling the Respondent to verify the writer's identity. Moreover, the response of anonymous individuals to the recruitment is irrelevant to whether personal information is included in the solicitation materials. For these reasons, the Respondent's argument is not considered reasonable.
Respondent also claimed that there have been complaints about sexual minority activities on campus. In these circumstances, if the Club's promotional materials disclose their personal information, the Petitioners may be exposed to the risk of hatred and discrimination, as well as outing against their will. Despite these risks, the respondent failed to consider the special circumstances of sexual minorities and applied stricter standards to the posting of promotional materials. This constitutes prejudice and discriminatory perceptions against sexual minorities.
Since the respondent's refusal to approve the club's promotional materials constitutes adverse treatment on the basis of sexual orientation without reasonable cause, it was found to be "a discriminatory act in violation of the right to equality" under Article 2(3) of the National Human Rights Commission Act.
Accordingly, the Commission recommended that the Respondent prepare measures to prevent the recurrence of such incidents and conduct educational programs for faculty and staff to raise their awareness of discrimination.