Facing opposition from conservative elements in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling party, Japan’s only openly gay lawmaker said it could take a decade for the country to legalize same-sex partnerships. Speaking on the day Australia became the latest nation to legalize gay marriage, Kanako Otsuji, 42, said Japan will have to go through a two-stage process. "First of all we want to pass a law banning discrimination," Otsuji, a new lower house member with the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, said Thursday at her offices in Tokyo. "It will then become clear that the lack of a law permitting same-sex marriage or partnership is discriminatory."
The law prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, disability, and social status but does not prohibit discrimination based on language, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Although the government enforced these prohibitions to some degree, discrimination against women, minority group members, persons with disabilities, LGBT persons, and foreigners remained... Expand
The law prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, disability, and social status but does not prohibit discrimination based on language, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Although the government enforced these prohibitions to some degree, discrimination against women, minority group members, persons with disabilities, LGBT persons, and foreigners remained problems. Moreover, enforcement was not uniform, with some provisions for persons with disabilities interpreted as applying to the public sector but not the private sector.
No law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. There are no penalties associated with such discrimination, and no related statistics were available. Laws governing rape, sexual commerce, and other activity involving sexual intercourse do not apply to same-sex sexual activity, since sex is defined in the law as exclusively male-to-female vaginal intercourse. This definition leads to lower penalties for perpetrators of male rape and greater legal ambiguity surrounding same-sex prostitution.
In December 2013 the Supreme Court recognized a paternity claim by a transgender man whose eldest son was born through artificial insemination, after the Osaka Family Court had rejected the man’s claim in September. The Osaka court ruled that the child could not have a blood relationship with the father because the father was not biologically capable of reproduction as a male. The Supreme Court decision applied only to the man’s oldest son, born in 2010. The Supreme Court has yet to announce a ruling on the man’s second son, born in 2012 and the subject of a separate case pending in the Osaka Family Court.
NGOs that advocate on behalf of LGBT persons reported no impediments to organization but some instances of bullying, harassment, and violence. Stigma surrounding LGBT persons remained an impediment to self-reporting of discrimination or abuse, and studies on bullying and violence in schools generally did not take into account the sexual orientation or gender identity of the persons involved. Pervasive societal stigma surrounding LGBT persons also prevented many from being open about their sexual orientation, and attorneys who frequently represent LGBT persons related several cases during the year in which clients were threatened with disclosure of sexual orientation. Self-censorship in the press remained an impediment to bringing LGBT issues into mainstream discourse.
The law allows transgender individuals to change their legal gender, but only after undergoing sex reassignment surgery.
Source: U.S. Department of State's  Human Rights Report
The Japanese Government is being urged to end a rule requiring transgender people to undergo sterilization to legally change gender. People who seek to alter their legal sex must appeal to a family court under legislation entitled Law 111. Although the law affords some rights to transgender people and was hailed as step towards equality for LGBT people when it was introduced in 2003, it imposes a series of restrictions on those seeking legal recognition. Law 111 requires successful applicants to be single, not have children under the age of 20, have a psychiatric diagnosis of “gender identity disorder”, and be sterilised.
A Japanese TV network apologized Monday for making viewers "feel unpleasant" over a comedy program that revived a 30-year-old stereotype character depicting a gay man. The character called "Homo-oda Homo-o," a name incorporating "homo" -- a derogatory term in Japan for homosexual men -- twice, proved popular in the 1980s in a show featuring the comedy duo act "Tunnels." It made a comeback last month when Fuji Television Network Inc. aired a program marking the 30th anniversary of the show.
TOKYO - Once a week, the Japanese insurance company where Shunsuke Nakamura works tries to enliven its morning staff meeting by having employees give personal presentations. The topics tend to be mostly innocuous: hobbies, pets or wine recommendations. Mr. Nakamura used his turn, though, to come out as gay. “There was silence. People were surprised,” Mr. Nakamura, 33, said of his talk, which he gave to a group of about 50 colleagues last year.
The outing of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students by teachers is on the rise in Japan, which still lacks a framework for understanding the ramifications of the issue in terms of the educational system. Teachers who may simply think they are showing consideration to LGBT students by informing parents and classmates of their sexual orientation or gender identity may in fact be causing irrevocable harm, experts say. Publicly disclosing such confidential information without consent discourages other LGBT students from coming forward due to fears of discrimination and lack of trust.
Kunihiro Maeda, one of Japan's few openly gay politicians, recalls waiting outside an intensive-care unit 15 years ago, not knowing whether his long-time partner was still alive after being rushed to hospital. Maeda was only allowed to see his partner after his partner's parents arrived and told a doctor that Maeda was a family member. "Being a housemate does not enable you to be by your partner's bedside when he dies," said Maeda, 51, who has been an assembly member for Tokyo's Bunkyo ward for 18 years.
Tokai Television Broadcasting came out with a series of commercials focusing on what it’s like to live as part of the LGBT community in Japan, which is making progress for same-sex couples. The first two men in the video below, who wished to remain anonymous, have been together for eight years and when asked if they would ever get married, they told the TV network that only “if a proper marriage system is in place that brings them on par with the rest of the world,” according to SoraNews24.
Thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people paraded through Tokyo’s Shibuya district on Sunday to express hope that Japan will further embrace gender equality and diversity. The LGBT parade was the finale to the annual Tokyo Rainbow Pride festival, and this year’s theme was “Change.” “I believed that nothing would change. But, little by little, things are starting to change,” the event’s flyers say, quoting an unnamed individual. “Let’s achieve a future where everyone is respected as an individual, despite differences in sexuality.”
Amnesty International Japan released a proposal Tuesday to the government on measures that the country must take to tackle discrimination against LGBT people. The measures cover situations ranging from discrimination in workplaces to treatment at detention facilities when they commit crimes to when natural disasters hit. The report maintains that the government needs to solve problems in LGBT health care stemming from discrimination and lack of awareness of needs by medical professionals. The proposal also addresses the issue of LGBT family life and benefits.
Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura said the fact that a LGBTI couple are foster parents shouldn't even be in the news. “The fostering program is necessary not for childless people, but for children,” said Yoshimura. “(Foster parents) being LGBT or not is irrelevant. A society where such a thing does not make a news headline is how our society should be.” Yoshimura made the remark after news emerged of the first male gay couple in Japan becoming official foster parents in Osaka.
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