South Korean gay couple sees court win as breakthrough for equality

For So Sung-uk and Kim Yong-min, who last week won a landmark Seoul court ruling on national health coverage for gay couples, the tide may finally be turning in their years-long struggle for equal recognition in South Korea for LGBT partnerships.

The 32-year-old activists, together since they first met during their national service a decade ago, have regularly posted about their relationship on social media and in public forums, including a wedding ceremony in 2019 that drew some 300 attendees.

"The more visible we are and the more we talk about our story, I think the more we can change people's opinions and help other LGBTQ people like us gather up courage," Kim said in an interview with Reuters.

The two also managed to secure national health insurance coverage for So, who works with a youth HIV support group, as a dependent based on his partnership with Kim, an employee for an organisation that advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer rights.

"I see this ruling not just as a one-off win but a sign that we are starting to win - that love has won and it will again," So said.

In South Korea, where LGBT anti-discrimination laws face strong resistance from conservative religious groups and others, the decision was hailed by human rights group Amnesty International as a "step towards marriage equality".

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