The Seoul High Court ruled on Tuesday that the state’s health insurer should provide spousal coverage to a same-sex couple, in a decision that lawyers and advocates said marked the first legal recognition of same-sex union in South Korea.
The ruling overturned a lower court decision that a same-sex dependent was ineligible for benefits afforded other common law couples by the National Health Insurance Service.
Ryu Min-hee, a lawyer for the plaintiff couple said the High Court’s decision was the “first recognition of the legal status of a same-sex couple.”
The couple, So Sung-wook and Kim Yong-min, said in a statement: “We are delighted. It is not only our victory but also a victory for many same-sex couples and LGBTQ families in Korea.”
The plaintiff, So Sung-wook, filed a suit against the National Health Insurance Service in 2021 after being denied spousal benefits, but a lower court had ruled in favour of the insurer on the grounds that a same-sex union could not be considered a common law marriage under the current law.