South Korean soldier given suspended jail term for gay sex

South Korean soldier (file image) Image copyright Getty Images

A South Korean military court has given an army captain a suspended six-month prison sentence for having sex with another male soldier.

The unnamed captain collapsed and was taken to hospital after the verdict.

Homosexuality is not a crime for civilians, but the South Korea's military law bans homosexual activity by army personnel.

Human rights groups have accused the armed forces of conducting a "witch hunt" to root out homosexuality.

The captain was convicted on Wednesday of violating the Military Criminal Act which states that a soldier engaging in sodomy or "other disgraceful conduct" can be put in jail for up to two years.

His sentence was suspended for one year, and he will dishonourably discharged, the court said Wednesday.

'Unjust conviction'

In April, the Centre for Military Human Rights Korea claimed that the Army Chief of Staff Gen Jang Jun-gyu had asked for homosexuals within the armed forces to be tracked down.

The military had then carried out an investigation and and some 40-50 soldiers were put on a list, the group said.

The army has denied these allegations.

"This unjust conviction should be immediately overturned," said Roseann Rife, East Asia research director at Amnesty International in a statement.

"No one should be persecuted based on their sexual orientation, activity or gender identity alone. What counts is their service not their sexuality."

The conviction comes in a week where the region has seen gay men caned in Aceh for having sex, but also Taiwan paving the way for same-sex marriage to be legalised.

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