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  Military Law - Legal News


South Korea’s Supreme Court on Thursday threw out a military court ruling that convicted two gay soldiers for having sex outside their military facilities, saying it stretched the reading of the country’s widely criticized military sodomy law.

The court’s decision to send the case back to the High Court for Armed Forces was welcomed by human rights advocates, who had long protested the country’s 1962 Military Criminal Act’s Article 92-6, which prohibits same-sex conduct among soldiers in the country’s predominantly male military.

The article prescribes a maximum prison term of two years for “anal intercourse” and “any other indecent acts” between military personnel. Following the Supreme Court’s full panel deliberation of its 13 justices, Chief Justice Kim Myeong-su said they concluded the provisions should not be applied to consensual sex between male service members that takes place outside military facilities during off-duty hours.

“The specific ideas of what constitutes as indecency has changed accordingly with the changes in time and society,” Kim said in a decision that was broadcast online. “The view that sexual activity between people of the same sex is a source of sexual humiliation and disgust for objective regular people and goes against decent moral sense can hardly be accepted as a universal and proper moral standard for our times.”

The court later said in a press release that the decision was meaningful as a “declaration that consensual same-sex sexual activity (among military service members) could no longer been considered as punishable in itself.”

The two defendants — an army lieutenant and sergeant from different units — had been charged by military prosecutors in 2017 for having sex during off-duty hours at a residence outside their bases in 2016. They were among at least nine soldiers who were indicted in what critics described as the army’s aggressive crackdown on gay soldiers in 2017.

The defendants had appealed after the military high court upheld their convictions by a lower court based on Article 92-6 and gave them suspended prison terms.

South Korea’s Defense Ministry said it will “carefully examine” the Supreme Court’s decision while proceeding with the case sent back to the military court.


A judge has ruled that the Navy SEALs won’t be able to use Washington State Parks as training grounds.

In January 2021, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission voted 4-3 to approve the Navy’s proposal to use up to 28 parks for training purposes for the elite units, where SEALs would emerge from the water under the cover of darkness and disappear into the environment.

The Northwest News Network reports the decision rankled many recreationalists, who said during public comments they would avoid these areas for fear that SEALs would watch them without the knowledge or consent of visitors.

On Friday, Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon said the commission’s decision was illegal and outside its purview, which includes the protection and enhancement of parks.

In addition, Dixon ruled the commission violated the State Environmental Policy Act by not considering fully how the trainings could deter visitors.

Opponents of the decision often said the presence of out-of-sight SEAL trainees would incite a “creepiness factor,” removing a sense of calm often found in nature.


NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has categorically ruled out any role for the military organization in setting up and policing a no-fly zone over Ukraine to protect against Russian airstrikes.

Stoltenberg says “NATO should not deploy forces on the ground or in the air space over Ukraine because we have a responsibility to ensure that this conflict, this war, doesn’t escalate beyond Ukraine.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has repeatedly appealed for NATO to set up a no-fly zone given Russia’s air superiority, as civilian casualties mount three weeks into the war.

Speaking Wednesday after chairing a meeting of NATO defense ministers, Stoltenberg conceded that “we see human suffering in Ukraine, but this can become even worse if NATO (takes) actions that actually turned this into a full-fledged war between NATO and Russia.”

He says the decision not to send air or ground forces into Ukraine is “the united position from NATO allies.” Earlier Wednesday, Estonia urged its 29 NATO partners to consider setting up a no-fly zone.


The Trump administration can go ahead with its plan to restrict military service by transgender men and women while court challenges continue, the Supreme Court said Tuesday.

The high court split 5-4 in allowing the plan to take effect, with the court's five conservatives greenlighting it and its four liberal members saying they would not have. The order from the court was brief and procedural, with no elaboration from the justices.

As a result of the court's decision, the Pentagon can implement a policy so that people who have changed their gender will no longer be allowed to enlist in the military. The policy also says transgender people who are in the military must serve as a member of their biological gender unless they began a gender transition under less restrictive Obama administration rules.

The Trump administration has sought for more than a year to change the Obama-era rules and had urged the justices to take up cases about its transgender troop policy immediately, but the court declined for now.

Those cases will continue to move through lower courts and could eventually reach the Supreme Court again. The fact that five justices were willing to allow the policy to take effect for now, however, makes it more likely the Trump administration's policy will ultimately be upheld.

Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said the department was pleased with the court's decision.

"The Department of Defense has the authority to create and implement personnel policies it has determined are necessary to best defend our nation," she said, adding that lower court rulings had forced the military to "maintain a prior policy that poses a risk to military effectiveness and lethality."

Groups that sued over the Trump administration's policy said they ultimately hoped to win their lawsuits against the policy. Jennifer Levi, an attorney for GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, said in a statement that the "Trump administration's cruel obsession with ridding our military of dedicated and capable service members because they happen to be transgender defies reason and cannot survive legal review."

Until a few years ago service members could be discharged from the military for being transgender. That changed under the Obama administration. The military announced in 2016 that transgender people already serving in the military would be allowed to serve openly. And the military set July 1, 2017, as the date when transgender individuals would be allowed to enlist.



Mexico's Supreme Court invalidated a controversial law signed last year that created a legal framework for the military to work in a policing role in much of the country, ruling Thursday that the measure violated the constitution by trying to normalize the use of the armed forces in public safety.

Deep-rooted corruption and ineffectiveness among local and state police forces has led Mexico to rely heavily on the military to combat drug cartels in parts of the country.

But military commanders have long expressed uneasiness about what was essentially an open-ended policing mission. The armed forces have been implicated in a number of human rights abuse cases.

On Wednesday, President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador announced a security plan that would also lean on the military. He proposed forming a National Guard initially made up of elements from the navy and army police as well as federal police.

After drawing a raft of criticism, especially from human rights groups, Lopez Obrador sought on Thursday to distinguish between his plan and his predecessors'. He said congress would seek a constitutional reform to allow it.

"Because I don't want to use the army and the navy like they have been doing for public safety work if they are not authorized to carry out those functions," Lopez Obrador said.

But the international human rights group Amnesty International said the Supreme Court's decision should cause Lopez Obrador to rethink his security plan.


A pop singer and prominent critic of Uganda's government was charged with unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition in a military court on Thursday for his alleged role in clashes in which the longtime president's motorcade was attacked by people throwing stones.

Lawmaker Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, whose stage name is Bobi Wine, was arrested in the northwestern town of Arua earlier this week. In a court session closed to reporters, he was remanded and will reappear on Aug. 23, the military said in a statement.

Ssentamu's wife insisted he doesn't know how to handle a weapon, and rights activists demanded his release. In a suburb of the capital, Kampala, small groups of his supporters took to the streets and burned tires in protest but police quickly dispersed them, national police spokesman Emilian Kayima said.

Three other lawmakers arrested alongside Ssentamu were charged earlier on Thursday with treason in a magistrates' court in the northern town of Gulu, where he was detained.

Many Ugandans expressed concern for Ssentamu's safety after Uganda's deputy prime minister told lawmakers he had been hospitalized in custody, without giving details.

The clashes broke out on Monday when Ssentamu and other politicians, including President Yoweri Museveni, were in Arua campaigning in a by-election to choose a lawmaker after the previous one was shot dead near Kampala in June.

Ssentamu's driver was shot dead in the clashes. The lawmaker later posted a picture of the dead man on Twitter, saying he had been killed by the police "thinking they've shot at me."

A group of lawmakers authorized by the parliamentary speaker to investigate the situation told reporters on Thursday that they had been unable to see the pop star.



The Supreme Court is leaving in place a decision that the alleged mastermind of the 2000 attack on the USS Cole that killed 17 U.S. sailors should face a trial by a military commission.

The court on Monday declined to take up the case of Saudi national Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri (ahbd al-ruh-HEEM' al-nuh-SHEE'-ree). Al-Nashiri had sought to challenge the authority of a military commission in Guantanamo Bay hearing his case. But an appeals court ruled last year that al-Nashiri's challenge would have to wait until after his trial.

Al-Nashiri argued that military commissions only have authority over offenses that take place during an armed conflict. He said the U.S. was not officially at war with al-Qaida at the time of the attack.

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