A South Korean court turned down a landmark attempt by two male filmmakers Wednesday to break down gay rights barriers by winning a marriage license.
The court's ruling put an end to a three-year legal battle by film director Kim Jho Gwang-Soo and his partner Kim Seung-Hwan who held a wedding ceremony in September 2013 and submitted their marriage registration form to their local authority.
Same-sex marriage is not recognised in South Korea, but the couple went to court to demand legal status as a married couple after a district office in Seoul refused to recognize it. It was the first lawsuit of its kind in South Korea.
Homosexuality is not illegal in South Korea. Gay groups have stepped up their campaign to win public support following the US Supreme Court's landmark decision on same-sex marriage.
The Seoul Western District Court said in its ruling Wednesday that South Korea's legal system stipulates a marriage as a union between people of different sexes.
"A same-sex union cannot be accepted as a marriage only with a legal interpretation under the current legal system without any legislative step," it said, rejecting the couple's argument that a refusal to accept a same-sex marriage contravenes the constitutional principle of equality.
Kim Jho Gwang-Soo is one of some openly gay celebrities in a conservative country where most gay and transgender people keep their sexuality under wraps. He had publicly come out in 2006 when he produced his movie, "No Regrets" - widely seen as South Korea's first explicitly gay feature.
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