SEOUL — The Supreme Court of South Korea issued a landmark ruling against the military’s decades-old ban on homosexual activities on Thursday, striking down guilty verdicts for two male soldiers who were indicted on a charge of having consensual sex while off their base.
South Korea’s Military Criminal Act calls for up to two years in prison for “anal intercourse or other indecent acts.”
Until now, soldiers engaged in such activities had been punished under that law regardless of whether there was mutual consent or where the conduct took place.
Rights groups have long condemned the law, saying it permits a “witch hunt” against gay soldiers.
In its ruling on Thursday, the Supreme Court said that the law should not apply to consensual sex away from a military setting.
The two accused men, a first lieutenant and a master sergeant, were indicted on charges of breaking the military code after they were found to have had sex in a private house during off-duty hours in 2016.
Lower military courts sentenced the lieutenant to four months in jail and the sergeant to three months; the sentences were suspended. »