International News Highlights — July 22, 2022

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Photo by Heo Ran / Reuters
Photo by Heo Ran / Reuters

Tension in Seoul: Queer festival celebrates, protestors rally
Reuters reported on July 16 that an estimated 13,000 people attended that day's Seoul Queer Culture Festival in the city's Seoul Plaza area, as conservative groups held a protest rally across the road from the event.

Human rights groups, LGBT clubs, embassies, and other progressive organizations staffed the festival's approximately 70 booths, which featured resources and fun activities like face painting.

Drag queen Hurricane Kimchi said of the event, "I'm glad we can have an offline festival after a long time. LGBT people are not hateful people who appear one day out of the year but people who live their daily lives just the same.

"The Queer festival has gotten bigger," she went on, "and many LGBT people show up without hiding, because the perception in our society is getting better."

The U.S. ambassador to South Korea, Philip Goldberg, gave a speech in support of the South Korean LGBT community. "We're going to fight with you for equality and human rights," he said.

The protest rally across the road in front of city hall had at least 15,000 participants, according to the Yonhap news agency. Lee Yong-hee, a university professor at the rally, said the protest was about "the healthy sexual ethics of our children," and he implied that the Seoul Plaza was being misused because it was "run with citizens' taxes."

Hungary and EU clash again, lawsuits pending
Reuters reported on July 15 that the European Commission has decided to level two lawsuits at Hungary: one over a recent anti-LGBT law and another over a refusal to renew the license of government-critical radio broadcaster Klubadio. These lawsuits come as the latest clash in a long conflict between Prime Minister Viktor Orban and EU standards of human rights and democracy.

"The European Commission today decided to refer Hungary to the Court of Justice of the EU over a Hungarian law which discriminates against people on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity," said an EU executive.

As for the radio license, "We address attacks to independent media via all the tools that we have," said Vera Jourova, European Commissioner for Values and Transparency.

Klubradio was forced off the air more than a year ago, but Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga said that development didn't harm media freedom or plurality, and that the commission's lawsuit over the LGBT law was "baseless."

"EU membership does not affect Hungary's right in any way to make decisions about child protection and in accordance with its own national identity," Varga said.