Japan: Prime Minister Should Back LGBT Equality Act

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07/18/2021

(Tokyo) – The Japanese government’s failure to pass a national nondiscrimination law to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people before the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics was a lost opportunity to advance the rights of everyone in Japan, J-ALL, Athlete Ally, All Out, and Human Rights Watch said today, releasing a video of five Japanese longtime LGBT activists. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga should immediately and publicly commit to enacting an LGBT Equality Act. The Olympic Charter expressly bans “discrimination of any kind” as a Fundamental Principle of Olympism. However, despite promises from Japan’s ruling conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) that they would pass the country’s first national LGBT law during the 2021 Diet session, the legislature failed to pass a law during 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 out professional athletes in the country, and many remain in the closet from fear and stigma,” said Yuri Igarashi, director of the Japan Alliance for LGBT Legislation (J-ALL), an umbrella organization of more than 80 LGBT organizations in Japan. “We expected the Olympic Games to be a wonderful opportunity to introduce and pass legal protections so that everyone in society can live openly and safely. It is extremely disappointing that this law did not pass this time.” The Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games, which were postponed for a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, will start the week of July 23, 2021. Not a single openly LGBT athlete will compete for the host country, reflecting Japan’s need to create a safe and inclusive environment for LGBT people.

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