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Asia and the Pacific
Western Asia

Republic of Korea - February 2023

Court recognizes same-sex partners for first time

A high court on 21 February 2023 ordered the National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) to provide spousal coverage to same-sex couples, marking the first time a court has legally recognized social benefits for same-sex couples in South Korea. The ruling overturned a lower court ruling in January 2022 that declined to recognize the same-sex couples as common law spouses. While hailed as a leap forward in expanding LGBTQIA+ rights, significant barriers remain, with one of the petitioning partners noting that "The right we've obtained is 1 out of 1,000 that a [heterosexual] married couple has had." Despite its narrow reach, rights activists remain hopeful that the verdict will establish a precedent for enabling future rulings based on the same principles of equality and non-discrimination. NHIS plans to challenge the ruling in the Supreme Court.

Sources: The Korea Herald, Reuters, Human Rights Watch

Primary categories and factors
Rights +1 Rights  (+1)
Basic Welfare
Political Equality
Social Group Equality

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