Japanese PM Under Pressure to Introduce LGBT+ Non-Discrimination Law

Prime Minister Shinzō Abe

Next year’s Olympics host nation may be about to become more LGBT+ inclusive.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is being called upon by Japanese LGBT+ activist groups to introduce a law which would protect LGBT Japanese against discrimination.

96 Human Rights and LGBT+ groups have signed and sent a letter to the prime minister after several months of coordination with related officials.

Prime Minister Abe has yet to respond to the letter.

With Tokyo set to host the COVID 19 postponed Olympics in 2021, the 96 groups have urged to Prime Minister Abe to pass the bill before the games take place next July.  

“LGBT people in Japan are entitled to equal protection under the law,” said Yuri Igarashi, co-representative director of the Japan Alliance for LGBT Legislation (J-ALL), an umbrella organization of 100 LGBT+ organizations in Japan. “Postponing the Olympic Games to 2021 will give the government time to introduce and pass protections of benefit to everyone in Japan.”

The groups note that in March 2015, Prime Minister Abe publicly proclaimed Japan’s intention to “stamp out discrimination and respect human rights” and has previously told the nation’s parliament that “discrimination or prejudice against sexual minorities is not allowed in any aspect of society.”

LGBT+ activists are hoping Abe will now go one step further and introduce legislation to make that a legal reality ahead of next year’s Olympics.

“We have seen through history the power of the Olympics to mobilize athletes and fans to speak out for what they believe in, from Tommie Smith and John Carlos protesting racism in 1968 to the Principle 6 campaign in 2014,” said Hudson Taylor, founder and executive director of Athlete Ally. “Sport teaches us that we are stronger when we stand together, and now is the time for the global sports community to stand in solidarity with the LGBT community in Japan.” 

While Japan’s national government has not enacted LGBT+ anti-discrimination legislation, the Tokyo metropolitan government in late 2018, adopted an ordinance that protects LGBT people from discrimination in line with the Olympic Charter.

“Japan has an opportunity to be a global LGBT rights leader,” said Kanae Doi, Japan director at Human Rights Watch. “The Tokyo metropolitan government has shown solidarity with the LGBT community, and the national government should follow suit.”