The lower house of parliament in Japan has recently approved a bill aimed at promoting a better understanding of sexual minorities in the country.
The legislation received support from both the ruling and opposition parties and is expected to become law by the end of the current parliamentary session.
The bill passed the House of Representatives committee after a single day of deliberations, which is unusual. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), its coalition partner Komeito, and some opposition parties backed the bill, making it likely to pass through the upper house soon. The LDP included some of the opposition parties’ proposals to ensure wider support, despite some conservative LDP lawmakers’ initial opposition.
Japan lags behind other advanced G7 nations in protecting the rights of sexual minorities. There are no laws prohibiting discrimination against LGBT individuals, and there is no recognition of same-sex marriage or civil unions, leading to calls both locally and internationally for Japan to take action.
The G7 summit in May, held in Prime Minister Kishida’s constituency, further emphasised the need for Japan to showcase progress in promoting inclusivity and understanding towards sexual minorities.
One of the bill’s most contentious aspects is a clause stating that “All citizens can live with peace of mind,” which some critics argue prioritises the majority’s rights over those of sexual minorities. Initially, conservative LDP members opposed the bill, but negotiations between the ruling and opposition parties resulted in a revised version being introduced to the Diet just before the G7 summit.
The lower house’s approval of the LGBTQ+ bill represents a significant step in promoting understanding and legal protections for sexual minorities in Japan. Though the bill still faces scrutiny in the upper house, its progress demonstrates the growing recognition of the need to address the rights and well-being of sexual minorities in Japanese society. Japan aims to catch up with other G7 nations by enacting this legislation and fostering a more diverse and inclusive society.