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Letter to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Regarding National LGBT Non-Discrimination Law

April 17, 2020

Prime Minister Shinzō Abe

Cabinet Secretariat, Government of Japan

1-6-1 Nagata-chō, Chiyoda-ku

Tokyo 100-8968, Japan

Re: National Law Needed by 2020 Tokyo Olympics to Protect against Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity

Dear Prime Minister Abe,

The undersigned 96 organizations urge you, in advance of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games, to introduce legislation that would protect people in Japan from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. 

As you may know, the Olympic Charter expressly bans “discrimination of any kind” including on the grounds of sexual orientation as a “Fundamental Principle of Olympism.” Japan has also ratified core international human rights treaties that obligate the government to protect against discrimination, including the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The Tokyo 2020 Summer Games have been advertised as celebrating “unity in diversity” and “passing on a legacy for the future.” We recall your March 18, 2015 speech proclaiming Japan’s intention to “stamp out discrimination and respect human rights.”

With millions of overseas visitors expected to come to Japan around the Tokyo 2020 Games, Japan will be in the global spotlight in an unprecedented way. This is an important opportunity for you to showcase the government’s commitment to include lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in society.

The current lack of legal protections in Japan for LGBT people does not meet the requirements of the Olympic Charter, the Olympic Agenda 2020, or international human rights standards.

As you may know, in October 2018 the Tokyo Metropolitan Government adopted an ordinance that protects LGBT people from discrimination in line with the Olympic Charter. While a promising step, Japan has not yet enacted national anti-discrimination legislation that includes LGBT people.

Since several Tokyo 2020 competitions, including the marathon and race walk, golf, fencing, and surfing, will take place outside of Tokyo — in Hokkaido, Saitama, Chiba, Shizuoka, Kanagawa, Miyagi, and Fukushima prefectures — LGBT Japanese fans, athletes, and foreign visitors will not be protected under Tokyo’s anti-discrimination ordinance.

Although Japan has increasingly taken a leadership role at the United Nations by voting for both the 2011 and 2014 Human Rights Council resolutions calling for an end to violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, LGBT people in Japan continue to face intense social pressure, and have fewer legal protections than their peers. 

At the September 7, 2013 International Olympic Committee Host City election speech, “Cool Tokyo” Ambassador Christel Takigawa promised that Japan will welcome everyone with the unique hospitality known as “omotenashi.” She said, “we promise that we provide every visitor with memories to last a lifetime.” You were also present at the Host City election and promised that you are “true believers in the Olympic movement.” However, under the current legal system, the government of Japan is allowing that LGBT people may not receive a welcome of “omotenashi.”

Public support for LGBT equality has surged in Japan in recent years, highlighting the importance of inclusive hospitality during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Recent surveys show that 3 to 10 percent of people in Japan identify themselves as LGBTQ (see Dentsu Inc. and Osaka city), and 83 percent of the Japanese public supports the Tokyo municipal LGBT non-discrimination ordinance.

We urge the Japanese government to enact a law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity to uphold the Olympic Charter and bring domestic law in line with international human rights standards. 

Prime Minister Abe, we respectfully ask that you:

  • Immediately, publicly commit to the introduction of a national law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity; and
  • Direct the drafting of an anti-discrimination bill on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and introduce the law for passage to the National Diet session in advance of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Sincerely,

Japanese NGOs                                    

Amnesty International Japan ∙ Association to Support Gender Identity Disorder ∙ Be my friend! LGBT ∙ Colorful Child ∙ Diversity Lounge Toyama ∙ Diversity Machiya ∙ Diversity Shinshu ∙ Diversity WakuWaku ∙ ELLY Fukui ∙ Fair ∙ FRENS ∙ Fruits in Suits Japan ∙ Gender and labor study group ∙ GID Link ∙ Hamamatsu Transgender Society ∙ Hareruwa ∙ Inclusive Café ∙ Japan Alliance for LGBT Legislation ∙ NPO Japanese Association of Sexual Health ∙ JobRainbow Inc. ∙ Kansai Tongzhi Association ∙ Kumaniji ∙ lag-dialog ∙ Legal Allies for LGBTs in Kyushu ∙ LGBT Support Council Ishikawa ∙ LOUD ∙ Machidashi Nijiiro sazanka ∙ Marriage for All Japan ∙ Munakata Foundation ∙ Nakusou! SOGI Harassment Committee ∙ Kawasakishi nanairo hotaru ∙ nijiiro canvas ∙ Nijiiro Kazoku - Rainbow Family Japan ∙ Nijiiro smile ∙ Nijiirono-Hinata for LGBT youth ∙ NPO akta ∙ NPO All Japan Women's Shelter Network ∙ NPO ASTA ∙ NPO Colorful Blankets ∙ NPO colorful change lab ∙ NPO Kochi Help Desk ∙ NPO Kyouseinet ∙ NPO LGBT Families and Friend ∙ NPO Nijiiro Diversity ∙ NPO Rainbow community coLLabo ∙ NPO Rainbow Soup ∙ NPO Rainbow Toshima ∙ NPO TOKYO RAINBOW PRIDE ∙ OLQ/Over the Rainbow ∙ Policy informatics center of LGBT ∙ Pride Bridge ∙ Project Japan Women's & Human Rights Network ∙ Rainbow Alliance Okinawa ∙ Rainbow Fellows Nagano ∙ Rainbow foster care ∙ Rainbow Heart TOYAMA ∙ Rainbow Kanazawa ∙ Rainbow Knots LLC ∙ Rainbow Saitama ∙ Rainbow Tokyo Kitaku ∙ Rainbow View MIYAZAKI ∙ Rainbow Yamaguchi ∙ RAINBOW ZUSHI ∙ Rainbow♡Hug Hakusan ∙ RainbowPort Himawari ∙ Regumi Studio Tokyo ∙ Same-sex Partnership Net Japan ∙ Sawachi ∙ Sexual minority Diversity Kurihara (color calibrations) ∙ Sexualities and Human Rights Network ESTO ∙ SHG for LGBT ∙ Social Ally Konatu Hut! ∙ SOGIE support team kokoColor! ∙ Soraniji Himeji ∙ Soraniji Akashi ∙ SR LGBT&Allies ∙ Stonewall Japan ∙ Sukotan Social Service ∙ Take it! Niji ∙ The new c team ∙ Tiida Ami ∙ Tokyo Deaf LGBT bond ∙ Trance Gender Café ∙ TROIS COULEURS co.,ltd. ∙ Tsunagary Café ∙ YARUKI ARIMI ∙ Yokohamashi Hotaru ∙ Youth UP campaign 

International NGOs

Athlete Ally ∙ Football Supporters Europe ∙ Human Rights Watch ∙ ILGA World (The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association) ∙ OutRight Action International ∙ Transparency International Germany ∙ World Players Association

 

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