South Korean court recognizes spousal insurance coverage for same-sex couple | Inquirer News

South Korean court recognizes spousal insurance coverage for same-sex couple

/ 03:35 PM February 21, 2023

South Korea spousal insurance coverage for same-sex couple

Participants wave rainbow flags during the Korea Queer Culture Festival 2022 in central Seoul, South Korea, July 16, 2022. REUTERS FILE PHOTO

SEOUL — A South Korean court on Tuesday recognized spousal coverage by state health insurance for a same-sex couple, overturning a lower court’s ruling that denied the benefits.

The Seoul High Court’s ruling is the court’s “first recognition of the legal status of a same-sex couple,” said lawyer Ryu Min-hee, part of a team of lawyers that represented the plaintiff.


South Korea does not legally recognize same-sex marriage.


The plaintiff, So Sung-wook, filed a suit against the National Health Insurance Service in 2021 after the state health insurer denied spousal benefits to him despite granting such rights to other common law couples.

A lower court had said a same-sex union cannot be considered a common law marriage under current law and ruled in favor of the insurer.

According to Ryu, the appellate court said the spousal coverage system under the state health insurance scheme was not just for families as defined by law, and not granting the rights to people in same-sex relationships was discrimination.

Protecting the rights of minorities is the “biggest responsibility” of the court as the “last bastion” of human rights, the court added.

The National Health Insurance Service said it will appeal the ruling.

“This is an important decision that moves South Korea closer to achieving marriage equality,” Amnesty International’s East Asia researcher Boram Jang said.


“There is still a long way to go to end discrimination against the LGBTI community, but this ruling offers hope that prejudice can be overcome.”


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TAGS: Insurance, LGBT, South korea

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