Japan: Prime Minister Should Support LGBT Equality Law

(Tokyo) – The failure of the Japanese government to pass a national non-discrimination law to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games was a missed opportunity to advance rights of everyone in Japan, J-ALL, Athlete Ally, All Out and Human Rights Watch said today, posting a video of five longtime Japanese LGBT activists. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga should immediately and publicly commit to enacting an LGBT equality law.

The Olympic Charter expressly prohibits “discrimination of any kind” as a fundamental principle of Olympism. However, despite promises by Japan’s ruling conservative Liberal Democrat Party (LDP) to pass the country’s first national LGBT law in the 2021 Diet session, the legislature did not pass a law in the past. the session, which ended in June.

“LGBT people in Japan, including athletes, are entitled to equal protection under the law, but currently there are a very limited number of openly open professional athletes in the country, and many remain in the closet. because of fear and stigma, ”said Yuri Igarashi. , director of the Japanese Alliance for LGBT Law (J-ALL), an umbrella organization of over 80 LGBT organizations in Japan. “We expected the Olympics to be a wonderful opportunity to introduce and adopt legal protections so that everyone in society can live openly and safely. It is extremely disappointing that this law was not passed this time.

The Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics, which have been postponed for a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, will begin the week of July 23, 2021. No openly LGBT athlete will compete for the host country, reflecting Japan’s need to create a safe and inclusive environment for LGBT people.

J-ALL and other Japanese LGBT groups have, over the past six years, urged political parties and elected officials to pass legislation to protect LGBT rights. In 2020, J-ALL, Athlete Ally, All Out and Human Rights Watch created the #EqualityActJapan campaign in Japanese and English to support a law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

In January, 116 Japanese and international groups sent a joint letter calling for the adoption of such legislation to Prime Minister Suga. In March, the groups submitted a petition with 106,250 signatures from Japan and abroad to all Japanese political parties, including the LDP, calling for the introduction of the Diet Equality Law. Large companies, including Coca-Cola, Deloitte, EY, Intel, Microsoft, PwC, PepsiCo, Salesforce and Sega Sammy, have also approved the equality law.

In response, the LDP announced that it would enact an LGBT law in the 2021 Regular Session of the Diet, but failed to do so. the the media reported that many conservative PLD MPs opposed the bill. Although other party leaders have publicly supported LGBT legislation, the prime minister has never publicly expressed support for the LGBT equality law.

“LGBTQ + athletes have always competed at the highest level in sport, and the Olympic Charter emphasizes that every athlete’s access to sport is a human right,” said Hudson Taylor, Founder and Executive Director of Ally of the athlete. “As the esteemed host of this year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games, Japan has the power to be a global human rights leader in ensuring that LGBT people nationwide are protected from discrimination under of the law. Without these protections, the true spirit of Olympism – that of inclusiveness and equality – can never be fully realized. “

Japanese public support for LGBT equality has increased in recent years. In November 2020, a national network opinion poll found that 88% of the people questioned “agree or tend to agree” with “the introduction of laws or ordinances prohibiting harassment and discrimination (in relation to sexual minorities)”.

In October 2018, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government passed an ordinance that protects LGBT people from discrimination in accordance with the Olympic Charter. This municipal law on the “Olympic Games” is the direct result of a consultation on human rights related to the Olympic Games and has proved popular. However, it also demonstrated gaps in protection across the country and therefore the need for a national approach, the groups said.

“Protecting LGBT + people from discrimination is a crucial and long overdue step for Japan,” said Matt Beard, Executive Director of All out. “By failing to pass anti-discrimination legislation before the Olympic Games, the Japanese government is not only breaking the Olympic Charter, but also ignoring the will of the 88% of the population who are in favor of such legislation. “

Japan has also ratified major international human rights treaties that oblige the government to protect against discrimination, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

“LGBT people in Japan face intense social pressure and less legal protections than other Japanese,” said Kanae Doi, Japan director at Human Rights Watch. “Prime Minister Suga should immediately commit to passing an LGBT equality law to make LGBT equality part of Japan’s permanent Olympic heritage.

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