For the first time in the nation, a South Korean court has acknowledged the legal rights of same-sex couples.
In a historic decision, the Seoul High Court determined that a government health insurer did owe coverage to a customer's spouse after the company terminated it when it learned the two were gay.
The men had a wedding ceremony in 2019, but South Korea does not recognize same-sex unions.
According to activists, the decision is a big step forward for LGBT rights in the nation.
The case verdict, however, might still be contested in the nation's Supreme Court. .
So Seong-wook, the plaintiff, expressed his appreciation for the decision and the "recognition of a very obvious right that has not been given.".
He filed a lawsuit against the National Health Insurance Service in 2021 after his partner Kim Yongmin's plan denied him coverage.
The couple had initially been given coverage, but this was later revoked because the NHIS claimed they had given the same-sex couple coverage in error.
Mr. So, who welcomed the decision, commended the court for treating "the principle of equality as an important issue.".
He told the BBC, "I think it has great meaning for LGBTQ people who have experienced discrimination, for those who support them, and for all those who are discriminated against.
A lower court's decision was overturned by the Seoul High Court. It was determined that spouse coverage under the NHIS included non-legally defined families as well.
Additionally, it concluded that depriving same-sex couples of these advantages constituted discrimination.
In some ways, everyone can be a minority. Being in the minority means being different from the majority and cannot be wrong in and of itself, according to the court's ruling.
"In a society where the majority rule principle predominates, it is important to be aware of minorities' rights and make efforts to protect them. ".
According to a Human Rights Watch report from the previous year, discrimination against LGBT people is still "pervasive" in South Korean society.
Without the legal status of marriage, same-sex couples are frequently denied access to newlywed benefits from the government.
Amnesty International issued a statement following the court decision on Tuesday, saying: "There is still work to be done to end prejudice against the LGBTI community, but this ruling offers hope that prejudice can be overcome.