A court in South Korea recognized the legal status of a same-sex couple for the first time in a decision about healthcare coverage. According to NPR, the court ruled Tuesday that government health insurance should include spousal coverage for same-sex couples.
The case was brought to the court by So Seong-uk and Kim Yong-min, who had a wedding in 2019. In 2021, according to BBC, So sued National Health Insurance Service after he was denied coverage on Kim’s government health insurance plan.
In South Korea, dependents are not required to pay for government health insurance if their spouse meets certain employment requirements. However, South Korea does not legally same-sex marriages and civil unions. According to The Guardian, in January 2022, a lower court threw out So’s petition because it did not recognize So and Kim as spouses.
The higher court’s ruling on Tuesday overturned the decision of the lower court and recognized the couple’s partnership. NRP reports that the court found that same-sex unions were similar to heterosexual unions as they create an “emotional and economic community.” It would therefore be discriminatory treatment to deny same-sex couples the same healthcare rights.
The National Health Insurance Service plans to appeal the ruling in South Korea’s Supreme Court. For now, So and Kim will celebrate the higher court’s ruling.
“I am delighted because I felt like the judges told us through a court decision that the feelings of love I have for my husband should not be the target of ignorance or insults,” So told The Korea Herald, according to The Guardian.
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