A homosexual has filed for property division and alimony following the end of her de facto marriage. As the first of its kind in Korea, the case is drawing public interest regarding its outcome.
On March 17, Kim (aged 46) filed a lawsuit at the Seoul High Court against K (aged 47), whom she had been living with for 21 years, demanding that half of the 1 billion Won worth of assets that they had earned while living as a couple, together with an alimony of 200 million Won, be given to her, as K's wife of 21 years."
Han Dae-sam (aged 41), Kim's attorney, revealed, "Although de facto marriages are not officially recorded in the family registrar, it is possible for the couple involved to claim property division as well as alimony. This doesn't pose a problem when the couple is heterosexual, but this case is going to be pretty difficult as it presupposes legal recognition of marriage between homosexuals."
Part of the media has reported the story as an "unusual lawsuit" or "a case without easily identifiable precedents anywhere in the world," focusing on the frequency of sexual intercourse between two co-habiting lesbians rather than on the human rights of homosexuals.
The Korea Center for Human Rights of Sexual Minorities says, "The media should refrain from turning this case into a curiosity show. The lawsuit isn't particularly novel, nor is it uncommon throughout the world."
Even before Europe legislated laws recognizing marriages between homosexuals, lawsuits to claim property division or inheritance were filed frequently as part of the gay rights campaign for homosexual couples to gain the same recognition that heterosexual enjoy. On November 15, 2000, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling on the 15 E.U. member countries to grant homosexual couples the same rights as heterosexual couples. And Holland followed Denmark in recognizing homosexual couples' right to wed.
Denmark granted homosexual couples the rights to legal marriages in 1989, but has yet to recognize their rights to adopt children. A law legislated in 1999 allows homosexual couples in Denmark to adopt children if one partner is the biological parent of the child. As for Sweden, legal marriages between homosexuals have yet to be recognized, but they enjoy most of the rights recognized in heterosexual marriages.
The Korea Center for Human Rights of Sexual Minorities says, "Although the court decision will take another few months, we strongly appeal to the Seoul High Court to make the wise decision of guaranteeing human beings' right to equal treatment."
Kim, who was reluctant to be interviewed as her case is still pending in court, revealed over the phone that she has "suffered undue humiliation" because of news stories focusing on her privacy rather than her human rights. She is currently "in a state of severe exhaustion."
On the other hand, her ex-partner K is said to have denied having a homosexual relationship with Kim, maintaining that she had been Kim's guardian all along.