North Korea slams U.N. human rights report because it was led by gay man


North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un inspects a flight training center of the Korean People's Army Air and Anti-Air Force Unit 188 on April 21. (CNA/KNS Republic of Korea via AFP)

A North Korean state news agency has lashed out at the United Nations' recent report into human rights in the Hermit Kingdom – by using homophobic insults against the man who led the investigation.

Michael Kirby, a former justice of the High Court of Australia, was specifically criticized in the report published Tuesday. Titled "KCNA Commentary Slams Artifice by Political Swindlers," the article said that Kirby's speech to the U.N. security council April 17 was "last-ditch effort intended to lend credence to the 'report' peppered with fabrications and create an atmosphere of international pressure on the DPRK in this regard."

It then included two paragraphs that took aim at Kirby, an openly gay man, personally:

As for Kirby who took the lead in cooking the "report", he is a disgusting old lecher with a 40-odd-year-long career of homosexuality. He is now over seventy, but he is still anxious to get married to his homosexual partner.

This practice can never be found in the DPRK boasting of the sound mentality and good morals, and homosexuality has become a target of public criticism even in Western countries, too. In fact, it is ridiculous for such gay to sponsor dealing with others' human rights issue.

The full article can be found on the KCNA Web site. A mirrored version  that may be easier to load  is also available at NKNews.

KNCA's insults appear to be part of a broader attempt to discredit the U.N. report, which made allegations of crimes against humanity in North Korea. Last week, the agency quoted a North Korean spokesman who said that the United States and its allies were running a "human rights racket."

However, the use of homophobic insults seems exceptional, even for North Korea: A quick search of KCNA appears to show that this is the first time the agency has used the word "homosexual" since the agency went online. Officially,  homosexuality doesn't exist in North Korea, and there appear to be no laws on the books banning it.  In the rare moments it is acknowledged, it is viewed negatively. In an article for NK News published last year, Oliver Hotham wrote that many North Koreans have little knowledge of homosexuality, and it is often viewed as a foreign concept.

North Korean propaganda is well-known for its flowery language, and insults against foreign critics occur with relative frequency. Earlier this month, the  state newspaper Rodong Sinmun called South Korean President Park Geun-hye a “bitch," and in 2009, KCNA reported that a North Korean official had labelled Hillary Clinton a "funny lady" who was "by no means intelligent."

The Post has reached out to Kirby for comment and will update with nay response he wishes to make.

Adam Taylor writes about foreign affairs for The Washington Post. Originally from London, he studied at the University of Manchester and Columbia University.
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