Photo: LGBT Parade, Tokyo.

LGBT groups seeking equality law in Japan before Olympics


Activists submitted a petition with over 106,000 signatures to Japan’s ruling party Thursday, calling for an LGBT equality law to be enacted before the Tokyo Games, saying Japan as host nation should live up to the Olympic charter banning gender and sexual discrimination. Their action came on the day the Olympic torch relay began in the northern prefecture of Fukushima counting down to the Games that start in July. LGBTQ and other human-rights activists say the momentum for the law is rising as Japan gets attention over its handling of gender equality, diversity and other human-rights issues. “Many LGBT people in Japan are still discriminated against…. We need legislation to guarantee human rights and equality of LGBT people,” said Yuri Igarashi, director of the Japan Alliance for LGBT Legislation, one of four main groups that organized the petition. “It is a responsibility for a host nation to legalize the equality act.” Igarashi said the groups submitted the signatures to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner Komeito, as well as opposition lawmakers. Japan has slowly shown increased support and awareness of sexual diversity but lacks legal protections, while dozens of other countries have allowed same-sex marriages and enacted other laws protecting the rights of sexual minorities.

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