09.01.17 | News, Three questions for

Three Questions For...

Reverend LIM Bora from South Korea who supports the rights of sexual minorities
Reverend LIM Bora advocates for sexual minorities

Korean pastor LIM Bora advocates for the rights of sexual minorities in her country. (Photo: private)

LIM Bora is the pastor of the Hyanglin Seomdol congregation, which means stepping stone congregation, in Seoul. Since 2007, she is campaigning for the rights of sexual minorities. Doing so, she stands up to conservative Christians.

Reverend LIM, your congregation welcomes sexual minorities. What's special about your congregation?

Our congregation has about 70 members. About a quarter are lesbians, gays, bi-sexuals, transgenders (LGBT) and their relatives. Since 2007, when conservative Christians strongly campaigned against an anti-discrimination law, I started to support the rights of sexual minorities. I want to be a counterbalance to these Christians and I want to show everyone that not all Christians are like this. At the moment, I am part of a coalition of Christian and civil society groups who work on an educational campaign.

In your opinion, what are the major topics that need to be addressed when it comes to the situation of sexual minorities?

In the past 20 years, the awareness and knowledge of sexual minorities strongly increased. Nevertheless, there is still a lot of educational work that needs to be done. Benevolent disinterest is not enough. Many people still think all homosexuals are gay and all gays are HIV positive. Therefore, the indifferent fear of infection leads to homophobia.
In South Korea, there are conversion centers of the "ex-gay movement" following the example of conservative Christians in the US. In the Kyungki province close to Seoul, there is a treatment center where Christian parents send their LGBT children. These therapies are brutal and senseless. But still, there are so-called success stories floating around. "Cured" sexual minorities enthuse about the power of the Holy Spirit working in them.

What should Korean churches do about that?

There are so-called affirmative churches in the US and in Canada. These congregations are welcoming sexual minorities. In Korea, we are still for away from this. One of the rare examples is the Rodem Namu (Broom Tree) church. This congregation exists since 1996. They are meeting for worship on Saturday evening as most of their members attending "regular" congregations on Sunday - many of them haven't revealed their sexual orientation.
Most of the Korean churches are struggling with a decrease in members. The Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK) is afraid to take on the lead role in advocating for human rights of sexual minorities because they worry about additional loss of members. Even though, they usually like to see themselves as pioneers. I think, taking on this matter and openly advocating for the rights of sexual minorities would enrich the profile of PROK. It might even bring new members. Many LGBT Christians are hurt and deeply disappointed by the church and they are longing for a congregation that welcomes them as they are.

The interview was conducted by Karina Schumacher.

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