The Tokyo Metropolitan Government passed a bill that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Enacted on October 5, the act also commits for the city government to conduct public education about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights.
Tokyo authorities were inspired to draft the bill ahead of the city hosting the 2020 Summer Olympics.
The Olympics was driven to implement changes in how governments hosting the games act on LGBT rights issues, particularly after getting flak for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia, where the government passed a discriminatory “gay propaganda” law, on top of other human rights violations such as forced evictions, abuses against migrant workers, and media censorship. In December 2014, as part of its “Olympic Agenda 2020,” the International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed that all future host city contracts would include a requirement to specifically ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
The new Tokyo law states “the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, citizens, and enterprises may not unduly discriminate on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation” and pledges that the government will “conduct measures needed to make sure human rights values are rooted in all corners of the city and diversity is respected in the city.”
Though local authorities have pro-LGBT efforts in Japan, the country still has no national legislation protecting LGBT people from discrimination; does not grant legal recognition to same-sex couples; and labels transgender people who request legal recognition as having a “Gender Identity Disorder” and leaves them with no alternative but to undergo unnecessary and invasive medical procedures to secure official documents that reflect their gender identity.