South Korean LGBTQ community is fearing a rise in intolerance towards them. This is because a gay man who attended night gay clubs was linked to a new spike in COVID-19 cases in Seoul gay district.
Seoul Confirmed 18 New Cases:
South Korea has a confirmed eighteen new cases, as of Saturday, the 9th of May. It was the first time in almost a week, that they have seen more than ten new cases. A 29 year old man hit three gay night clubs in Seoul’s popular Itaewon district, prior to testing positive. This is where most of the cases originated from.
On May 7th, Thursday, this man tested positive for coronavirus. Along with him, the fourteen others who he had contact with, confirmed for having the rona, on Friday.
According to Korea Centers for Disease and Prevention (KCDC) and the Seoul city government, equal to 2000 people could have come in contact with this gay man. Since, he visited many neighbouring areas such as Gangwon and Gyeonggi.
Residents of these neighbouring areas and Seoul were sent many emergency alerts since May 7th. These alerts urged the people to observe a 14 day (two weeks) quarantine period, incase they visited the same bars and clubs under question. They have also restricted them from stepping out of the house.
Government of South Korea are currently conducting the “track and trace” process with a 1500 people list, who have paid a visit to these bars and clubs.
“Track And Trace”:
South Korea was the first country to strictly control the rapid spread of coronavirus. They scaled up their testing, and relied on various technological solutions. Which is nothing but an app by the government that tracks the locations of all new visitors to their nation. Also, people who fail to follow quarantine, should wear a bracelet which tracks their location. Furthermore, they are in the process of deploying “smart city” technology, to solidify contact tracer networks, reported Business Insider.
“We are in a lengthy tug of war with the coronavirus,” told Park Neung-hoo to Reuters in April. This health minister, also added that these measures might need to remain in place for the coming months or even years.
Korean Media Did Not Let This Opportunity Slip:
A local Korean newspaper, Kukmin Ilbo quickly made use of this news. They transformed this news into a sensation. Obviously following suit, the other local media made use of this same point of view. As a result, the term “gay club” was pasted on all headlines.
However, revealing the names of the bars and clubs in question did not exactly pose as the main issue. But, using the term “gay” as an explicit label to come up with a narrative is the real problem here. This easily qualifies as discrimination or bias against the community.
This local newspaper, Kukmin Ilbo immediately deleted the “gay” term from their stories and articles. After receiving plenty of backlash for using the homophobic narration.
But, people are continuing to link the new spike of COVID-19 cases to the LGBTQ, which is marginalising the community even more. This is similar to the Shincheonji church “cult” narration situation that occured when coronavirus cases were first recorded in the country, reported VICE.
LGBTQ Community Now Live In Fear Of ‘Force Outing’:
South Korean society already discriminates the LGBTQ community. Even after significant social pressures, the South Korean LGBTQ commuinty deals with marginalisation, legally, also. Conservative politicians, openly asked for the elimination of transphobia and homophobia from their anti-discrimination laws. This was in November 2019.
South Korea’s “trace and track” methods might give way to social unintended consequences. Because their government’s main goal is to abort these new cases cluster, only.
The government demanded people who visited the mentioned gay bars and clubs to come out on their own. Certain people pointed out that, this is actually forcing them to really “come out”. This fear of “outing” could lead to their hesitations for getting tested, said a health expert to Yonhap News Agency.
Asking ALL people (regardless of club/bar) especially those with symptoms to get tested, is VERY WELL played by the KCDC: they are also making it easier for those who might have otherwise been reluctant to admit having been to certain clubs discussed above. pic.twitter.com/FwvfhFkqKw
— Raphael Rashid (@koryodynasty) May 8, 2020
The government, after taking this issue into consideration, has decided to call off their contact tracing methods. And they are not singling out identified gay clubs and bars anymore.
The KCDC revealed during a briefing, their change of strategy. They are now urging everyone who travelled in the Itaewon province, in the early hours of 2nd May, and is COVID-19 symptomatic to come forward.
Furthermore, the South Korean government released an advisory. It urged the establishments such as clubs, to remain closed for another one month. Effective immediately from 8pm.