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Korea: Pastor on trial for blessing members of the LGBTQ+ community

by Heather Preston

A pastor suspended from the Korean Methodist Church (KMC) for two years for blessing LGBTQ+ people at a pride festival, now faces further disciplinary action.

Rev. Lee Dong-hwan has been accused of “sympathising with homosexuality” after he took part in an LGBTQ+ blessing ceremony at a queer festival in Incheon, South Korea in August 2019.

According to local reports performing the blessing broke the KMC’s rules and Lee was charged and then tried in a denominational tribunal.

He was found guilty and banned from preaching, giving blessings and holding prayer meetings for two years.

Lee contested his suspension, and has since filed a lawsuit against the KMC.

Despite the disciplinary measures, Lee has continued to support the LGBTQ+ community, establishing a “pro-gay” Christian advocacy group and continuing to perform blessings at queer festivals throughout his suspension.

In March 2023 eight members of the KMC filed a complaint against Lee for “disparaging the doctrine and the Book of Discipline” and “slandering the Methodist Church”, according to the Korean Herald.

On 8th June the KMC ruled to indict Lee for violating its Doctrine and Discipline laws – which ban 'an act in favour of or sympathy with homosexuality'.

Lee has been barred from service in the KMC until a ruling is reached.

In an interview with Weekly Kyunghyang magazine, Lee insisted that the phrase “agreeing or sympathising with” in the Book of Discipline is vague, and that he did not violate the article.

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