In the last issue, Ewha Voice reported a hate crime committed against Solidarity for Queer Liberation at Sogang University, “Dancing Queers,” (Dancing Q) and its confrontation against the incident. However, Dancing Q is not the only LGBT club that has encountered hate crimes this semester. In this issue, Ewha Voice will cover acts of terror perpetrated against the LGBT clubs of Ewha Womans University and Seoul National University (SNU) and how they raised their voices against these crimes.
Byunnal, a student club in Ewha that advocates LGBT rights, has experienced vandalisms and hate crimes over the years. This year, two of Byunnal’s posters to recruit new members were lost: one clearly ripped off from the wall and the other vanished without a trace. The incident occurred on the day the notice was posted. To this, Byunnal posted a notice that read “What you have ripped is not a poster but the voice of minorities” where the posters were removed.
Similar hate crimes have been committed in 2008 and 2013 on Ewha campus. The case that took place in 2008 was a unique one, as the offender was identified via the CCTV footage unlike other cases where the offenders were not discovered. The culprits were revealed as three members of a Christian club, Great Vision. They stated that their motive behind removing the banner was their religious beliefs. A long dispute between Great Vision and Byunnal had continued . Meanwhile, many Ewha students stood up and supported Byunnal, creating an organization called “People who want to give Byunnal wings.”
After dealing with several homophobic attacks, Byunnal has set a code of conduct for responding to such incidents. The members will actively counteract the crime, but not with an aggressive attitude, to assuage the weight of the event and encourage LGBT students on campus.
However, a mood of apathy is spreading throughout LGBT communities in spite of continuous endeavors of LGBT organizations, as similar hate crimes are committed every year. To prevent future vandalisms and improve the rights of LGBT students, Byunnal is dedicated to work harder to first spread the awareness of hate crimes against sexual minorities. In addition, Byunnal is planning to distribute newsletters and hold seminars about LGBT rights to create a society with a queer-friendly atmosphere.
“The basic principle of Byunnal is that hate crimes and people who commit them cannot be tolerated,” said Ata (alias), an activist of Byunnal. “We will take strong measures against such mindless acts of violence on campus, a place for intellectuals.”
The activist showed that she has strong faith in the Ewha community and wanted to convey a message to those who are against homosexuality.
“I believe that Ewha is a place where diversity is respected and communications are made,” Ata added. “People who commit hate crimes should know what kind of rights they are violating. If you oppose our view, please express your opinions through democratic procedures as Byunnal does.”
Queers in SNU (QIS), an LGBT student club in SNU, also underwent an incident where its banner was severely torn. QIS found out on March 22 that the banner it put up on campus that read “Welcome to all LGBT and non-LGBT newcomers to Gwanak,” to welcome freshmen, was damaged. Confirming with the school that the school does not rip banners in the process of collecting them, QIS concluded that the damage was done deliberately to oppose the message.
To show the solidarity of the student society of SNU and recover the damage by themselves, QIS held a campaign named “Your Honour, I think a cat ripped this banner.” The banner was exhibited in front of the central library tunnel, and students participated in the campaign by putting Band-Aids on the tear and leaving supportive messages. At the end of the three-day-long campaign which was held from March 24 to 26, the banner was repaired by 564 participants applying Band-Aids on the wound. The repaired banner was exhibited for a few more days, and was used at the press conference that was held in cooperation with the student council and Rainbow Action on March 31. After the press conference, QIS filed a complaint against vandalism.
As some students and even people outside the school offered financial support for a new banner, QIS installed it in April on the student union building, where no blade could reach. The new banner contained a similar message, and read “Still, spring comes. LGBT and non-LGBT newcomers, welcome to Gwanak once again.”
Along with Byunnal, QIS also made its position clear regarding hate crimes.
“It has been proved in the American society that hate crimes against sexual minority cannot be justified,” QIS said. “Criminal acts based on doctrines of a specific religion and personal hatred are against Korea’s constitutional value in the first place. However, the increase of the number of university LGBT clubs and the fact that many clubs are banding together with organizations outside the school show that school communities will continue to fight against hatred.”