Evan Wolfson, one of the chief architects of a movement that helped win same-sex marriage equality in the United States, told a seminar in Tokyo on Tuesday that the time is ripe for Japan to move forward to achieve freedom to marry. Wolfson — the founder and president of the Freedom to Marry organization, who has fought for LGBTI rights for more than 30 years — saw positive signs in the results of a nationwide survey conducted in Japan last year in which 51 percent of respondents expressed support for same-sex marriage
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
On Wednesday, the University of Maryland community is celebrating Pronouns Pronouncement Day, a day to raise awareness about pronouns and to disrupt assumptions about pronouns based on stereotypes and appearances. Instead, we encourage you to proactively share your own pronouns and use the #TerpsRiseAbove and #TransTerps hashtags to promote inclusion.
The city of Fukuoka said Wednesday it will start recognizing partnerships of LGBTI couples in April, becoming the seventh municipality to do so despite the absence of such a system at the national level. Under the new plan, the city will issue papers authenticating partnership oaths submitted by sexual minority couples. Unlike official marriages, the recognition does not entail legal rights or obligations but is expected to be used when couples rent city-run housing or undergo medical treatment requiring the consent of a family member at city hospitals.
Last month, publisher Iwanami Shoten was criticized for its definition of “LGBT” in the newest edition of Kojien, which is considered to be the most authoritative dictionary of the Japanese language. The complaint was specifically about the meaning of the acronym’s “T” portion, which stands for “transgender.” Kojien lumped “transgender” in with “lesbian,” “gay” and “bisexual” as describing persons “whose sexual orientations are different from the majority.” The four-part weekly NHK drama, “Joshiteki Seikatsu” (“Life as a Girl”), which ended Jan. 26, was designed to help clear up such misconceptions.
Today, the global research firm IPSOS released the results of a 23 country survey, including the US, on attitudes toward transgender people. The data was collected online between October 24th and November 7th, 2017 and included the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Ecuador, France, Great Britain, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Russia, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, and the United States of America. For the purposes of this summary write-up, however, Ipsos has chosen to focus on findings from the 16 countries where internet penetration is sufficiently high to feel confident that the data is truly nationally representative
On Jan. 13, five days after coming-of-age ceremonies were held in Japan, a similar event for sexual minorities took place at a hall in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo. The event, called the LGBT coming-of-age ceremony, was hosted by the nonprofit organization ReBit for such people, including those who chose not to attend ceremonies hosted in their hometowns for reasons such as difficulty in wearing the clothes of their preferred gender. ReBit is aimed at supporting youth from sexual minorities such as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals.
Following the release of its first edition in 1955, publisher Iwanami Shoten’s Kojien has become one of the most respected and widely used dictionaries in Japan. Since 1998, the tome has been on a 10-year update cycle, and so last week’s release of Kojien’s seventh edition was a big deal not just for linguists, but for Japanese society in general. However, not more than a few days after it went on sale on Jan 12, criticisms have arisen regarding one of the new book’s definitions. Among the terms added to the seventh edition is “LGBT,” and not an equivalent using indigenous Japanese linguistic components. The four-letter acronym appears in the book as “LGBT,” just like it would in an English dictionary.
Japan’s leading dictionary may have added a definition of LGBT to the dictionary for the first time, but it appears that the term has been misunderstood. The Kojien volume, which was published last week, made its first update in a decade. But its definition of LGBT defines the term as “people who have different sexual orientations from the majority.” Of course, in the case of transgender people, this definition doesn’t apply, as this refers to a gender identity rather than a sexual orientation.
In the end, Australia pipped Taiwan at the post to legalizing same-sex marriage, in a year of major achievements for LGBT rights in the Asia-Pacific region. Here’s a recap of the big and little steps forward that 2017 ushered in.
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."
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