Court Awards Damages to a Gay Journalist for Psychological Damage Caused by Christian Netizen’s Excessive Comments

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A netizen who posted damaging things about a gay internet magazine journalist was fined 5 million won (about 4,600 dollars) in damages, ruling that it was unlawful for a person to post private information about someone’s sex life in a contemptuous and scornful way as the journalist was not a public figure and informing the public about his sexuality did not benefit the public interest.

A netizen who posted damaging things about a gay internet magazine journalist was fined 5 million won (about 4,600 dollars) in damages, ruling that it was unlawful for a person to post private information about someone’s sex life in a contemptuous and scornful way as the journalist was not a public figure and informing the public about his sexuality did not benefit the public interest.

Seoul Southern District Prosecutor Office

In 2008, Mr. X came out publicly and currently works as a journalist at an online newspaper.

Since October of 2012 through December of 2013, a woman in her 30s, Ms. Y, had been writing posts about Mr. X on her blog and on Facebook. One particularly strong post was in September of 2013, where she wrote that ‘Mr. X has been hiding the fact that he has AIDS’ and also claimed Mr. X had been using drugs.

Mr. X brought Ms. Y to court for libel and contempt requesting 10 million won in psychological damages. Ms. Y, said that she ‘wasn’t slandering him for being a homosexual, but rather was pointing out the damages that could occur from the plaintiff’s glamorization of the homosexual lifestyle’ and that ‘Mr. X had already publicly come out’ and that ‘Because of gays, AIDS was increasing, homosexuals were harming youth, and the messages were written to stop sexual violence in the military.’ Ms. Y, part of a Christian church, also argued that as homosexuality is unlawful according to Christianity it is within her boundary of religious freedom.

The Seoul Southern District Prosecutor Office did not agree. On the 30th of October, they order that Ms. Y pay 5 million won in damages to Mr. X due to the excessiveness and frequent nature of Ms. Y’s attacks on Mr. X. Specifically, the court ruled that there was no reason other than contempt for Ms. Y to write about ‘the pleasures of anal intercourse’ ‘horny dogs’ and the like and including pictures of Mr. X. The court further stated ‘The defendant continued to write these messages over a period of months while the defendant acknowledged the need for psychological treatment over this period due to stress’. With no clear public good resulting from Ms. Y’s behavior, the court fined Ms. Y for libel.



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