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Japan Shadow Reports and Conclusions
Discrimination against women and girls on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression pervades Japanese society. In the absence of comprehensive antidiscrimination legislation and explicit recognition of sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited grounds for discrimination, lesbians, bisexual women and transgender (LBT)1 persons are vulnerable to and adversely affected by stigma, stereotyping and patriarchal gender norms. At the same time, they are denied protections from gender-based discrimination and violence available to heterosexual and gender normative women.
During the 2008 and 2012 Universal Periodic Review, Japan was urged to adopt national legislation that includes protections from discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. Also, the Human Rights Committee, in 2008 and 2014, recommended that Japan enact comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation that prohibits discrimination on all grounds, including sexual orientation and gender identity.3 These recommendations have not been implemented yet.
Where the government has amended discriminatory laws, implementation has been uneven and discriminatory. Where revisions to laws are being considered, the government’s narrow understanding of sexual violence of lesbians, bisexual women and transgender persons will prevent proper protections and redress.
- In January 2014, the Act on the Prevention of Spousal Violence and the Protection of Victims was expanded to include protections for partners in violent cohabiting and dating relationships. Lower court judges who hear domestic violence cases and grant protection orders are reluctant to allow the law to be used by lesbians experiencing violence in same sex relationships because they believe that the law should only apply to heterosexual relationships.
- Revision of the Japanese Penal Code is currently under consideration. Parliament will likely expand the current definition of rape in Article 177 of the Criminal Code to integrate a broader definition of sexual crimes. The Consultation Committee on Penalties for Sex Crimes, which is presenting expert opinions and recommendations to the Ministry of Justice for amendments to the Penal Code, including on Article 177, does not recognize non-genital penetration as rape. This means that the new definition of rape will only include penile penetration and not recognize bodily invasive acts such as rape with objects—hence failing to integrate a broader understanding of sexual violence.
- In July 2014,the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare revised the definition of workplace sexual harassment under the Equal Employment Opportunity Law and issued guidelines to business owners for inclusion of harassment between persons of the same sex. While LBT persons could potentially rely on this new definition of workplace sexual harassment, it does not go far enough The definition must explicitly include sexual harassment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Furthermore, there is no law or policy prohibiting hiring discrimination onthe basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and no law prohibiting workplace and employment discrimination after LBT people are hired.
- Since 2015, Japan has widely promoted increased participation of women in the work force to stimulate the economy. However, the commitment to increase women in the workforce must come with safe working environments for all women, including LBT women, which are not being enforced.
Published on June 7, 2016 | OutRight Action International an LGBT human rights organization