Historic ruling grants South Korean gay couple right to health coverage

Seoul, Feb 21 (EFE).- A South Korean appeals court issued a historic ruling Tuesday in favor of a gay couple who requested the same health coverage for them as the national health insurance grants heterosexual marriages, the only union recognized in the country.

This is the first time a South Korean court has recognized the rights of a same-sex couple.

The Seoul High Court, which did not provide any specific reason for its ruling, reversed the 2022 verdict of a lower court which established that by considering marriage in South Korea only as a union between a man and a woman it does not there are legal grounds for expanding that coverage to same-sex couples.

In February 2021 So Seong-wook filed an administrative complaint against the National Health Insurance Service.

In 2020, So initially obtained coverage as a dependant based on the health insurance program his partner Kim Yong-min receives at work, and both became the first same-sex couple to be included in that provision.

However, the institution rectified eight months later and demanded that So pay the fees corresponding to his single marital status, since he did not qualify as a dependent person of his partner. So immediately appealed the decision.

The couple held a wedding ceremony in 2019 and have lived together ever since, but South Korea does not recognize their union as a marriage.

“This ruling is significant as it is the first decision legally recognizing same-sex couples issued by a court of any level in South Korea,” Amnesty International researcher Jang Bo-ram said in a statement.

“It is an important decision that brings South Korea closer to marriage equality. There is still a long way to go to end discrimination against the LGTB+ community, but the ruling gives us hope about the end of prejudice” he added. EFE


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