Seoul court rules Christian TV channel has right to broadcast homophobic speech

Posted on : 2022-12-13 17:19 KST Modified on : 2022-12-13 17:19 KST
The court’s ruling that sanctions placed on CTS be canceled has sparked concern about discriminatory remarks and hate speech being condoned
ClipArt Korea
ClipArt Korea

A court has ruled that it was unconstitutional for the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) to sanction a broadcasting company for broadcasting unfiltered, discriminatory comments about sexual minorities made during one of its programs.

Civic groups are expressing concern, alleging that the decision overturned even the slightest sanction on homophobic hate speech.

The Seoul Administrative Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff on Monday in a suit brought by Christian broadcasting company CTS to cancel sanctions imposed on it by the KCC.

In July 2020, CTS ran a talk show in which it invited, among other people, noted religious figures who opposed the adoption of an anti-discrimination law.

During the programs, guests made a series of homophobic remarks, accusing LGBTQ people of “hedonism,” claiming that “homosexuals live with great internal conflict and worry, impoverishing their lives” and calling sexual attraction to the same sex or gender “unethical.”

The station transmitted these remarks unfiltered.

The KCC ruled in December of that year that CTS violated broadcast review regulations and issued a warning.

It said the broadcaster, in dealing with the socially contentious matters of the anti-discrimination law and homosexuality, “put together the guests in a biased way, failing to reflect the diverse views on the topics in a balanced way.”

The court took CTS's side, however, ruling that the KCC's disposition must be canceled as it is unconstitutional.

The bench ruled that when the state regulates broadcast material for violating "the public interest," such as fairness or objectivity, rather than for violating an individual's specific right, it must do so based on even stricter considerations.

It added that the best way to achieve broadcasting fairness was "autonomous regulations" through criticism and push-back from viewers and civil society rather than state intervention.

The court also said that since the program in question “made claims about the legal and social issues of the anti-discrimination law based on the basic position of a specific religion that disapproves of homosexuality on a religious channel,” the comments also “came under the protection of freedom of religion.”

“We must consider that regulating [comments] risks violating freedom of religion,” it said.

Civic groups have expressed concern about the ruling.

Jang Ye-jeong, the joint-chairperson of the executive committee of the South Korean Coalition for Anti-discrimination Legislation, said the court overturned “the KCC’s sanction that demonstrated the meaning of the principle that broadcasting must be fair and [respect] human rights,” and that the decision “once again highlighted the need to adopt anti-discrimination legislation.”

By Jeong Hye-min, staff reporter; Choi Min-young, staff reporter

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