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Revise Regressive Law Compelling Irreversible Surgery

A Japanese transgender man, Gen Suzuki, 46, has filed a court request to have his legal gender recognized as male without undergoing sterilization surgery as prescribed by national law. His case highlights the urgent need for Japan to revise its…
People take part in a rally to support the LGBT legislation in Shibuya district of Tokyo, Japan on June 6, 2021.
News

Japan’s Ruling Party Members Slur LGBT Community

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights activists in Japan and their allies have for years been pressing the Diet, the national parliament, to introduce legislation that protects sexual orientation and gender identity as grounds for…
LGBT activists outside ruling LDP protesting
News

Reform Legislation Should Explicitly Include Nondiscrimination Protections

Over the past six years, activists in Japan have pressed the Diet, the national parliament, to introduce a nondiscrimination law that protects the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Japan currently does not have any…
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga speaks at a news conference in Tokyo, Japan, May 7, 2021.
News

Judge Calls Current Laws ‘Discriminatory’

It was quite something to see a district court judge break into tears as she read her verdict declaring the denial of marriage registration to same-sex couples in Japan unconstitutional. It’s a significant and emotional moment in Japan for a court…
Lawyers and supporters hold rainbow flags and a banner outside Sapporo District Court in Sapporo, Japan, March 17, 2021. 
News

Rules Regulating Appearance Put Many Students, LGBT Teens at Risk

A recent case in Osaka, Japan, about hair color, highlights the risks of imposing social conformity. Many schools in Japan have strict policies around hair color, dress, and other appearance, and students can face harsh consequences if they fail to…
High school students wearing face masks walk in Tokyo, January 16, 2021. 
News

Legal Change Needed to Put Trans People on Equal Footing

Last week, a Japanese television program outed and mocked a transgender woman, exposing the harsh reality trans people face in Japan. But a society that often misunderstands and objectifies them is only the beginning – Japan’s legal…
The transgender pride flag.
News

International Health Group Urges End to Forced Sterilization Requirement

A leading international health organization has urged the government of Japan to reform its legal recognition procedure for transgender people. The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), comprised of more than 2,…
Fumino Sugiyama, a transgender man, holds his Japanese ID card, which reads “female,” at his home in Tokyo.
News

Eased Gender-Specific Standards Should Be Reflected in School Policy

Some Japanese schools are introducing uniforms designed less around traditional gender stereotypes and more with respecting gender expression by allowing students to choose their attire – a major benefit for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT)…
manga drawing by Taiji Utagawa of a transgender man with head down in the dark with three white spots leading into the distance
News

Government Shouldn’t Require Surgery for Rights Protection

The Japanese government has taken some positive steps to improve the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. But the country’s legal gender recognition procedure – the law that allows transgender people to be recognized according…
Participants March during the Tokyo Rainbow Parade. On October 22, hundreds of activist groups throughout the world will gather to mark the 8th annual International Day for Trans Depathologization.
News

Outrage After Popular TV Program Ridicules LGBT Community

The 30-year anniversary revival broadcast of a popular Japanese television show “Tunnels” sparked public outrage when an episode that aired in late September featured “Homoo Homooda,” a character crafted around offensive stereotypes of…
Participants hold a banner as they march during the Tokyo Rainbow Pride parade in Tokyo April 26, 2015.
News

Court Ruling Opens the Way to Marriage Equality

Taiwan’s constitutional court this week paved the way for marriage equality in the country by striking down the legal definition of marriage as “between a man and a woman.” The landmark decision declared this limited…
Supporters hug each other during a rally after Taiwan's constitutional court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to legally marry, the first such ruling in Asia, in Taipei, Taiwan May 24, 2017.
News

At Least 10 More Years of Official Silence on LGBT Lives in Schools

The Japanese government has missed an opportunity to introduce information about sexual and gender minorities to classrooms during a once-in-a-decade review of its national educational curriculum. Instead, the government said in March that including…
manga drawing by Taiji Utagawa
News

Transgender Woman Helps People ‘Searching for Answers’

I was in Colombia last week to speak at an event about my work for Human Rights Watch with a focus on homophobic and transphobic bullying. I was to be interviewed by Brigitte Baptiste, who I had never met. When I took my seat in front of hundreds of…
Brigitte Baptiste (L) and Human Rights Watch LGBT Advocacy Director Boris Dittrich, Colombia, February 2017.
News

School Guidelines Should Address Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity

Last year, my colleagues and I interviewed sexual and gender minority youth from across Japan to learn about their experiences at school. The information we documented was harrowing: harassment and bullying colored the lives of many of the youth we met.…
manga drawing by Taiji Utagawa of a transgender man with head down in the dark with three white spots leading into the distance
News
“I only read about LGBT people because I knew Human Rights Watch was coming to interview me,” a teacher in Tokyo told me last November while I was researching bullying of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students in Japan’s schools. …
A 20 year old Japanese woman who was bullied by her classmates in junior high school holds a notebook displaying the message...
News
The rapid spread of the Zika virus has raised concern among public health officials across the Americas. The World Health Organization warned Sunday that the virus is likely to spread further across the region. At first glance,…
A woman walks away from her apartment as health workers fumigates the Altos del Cerro neighborhood as part of preventive measures against the Zika virus and other mosquito-borne diseases in Soyapango, El Salvador January 21, 2016.
News
When a local politician from Tokyo’s Ebisu district last week condemned media coverage of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights issues and called gay people “abnormal” on Twitter, it came as a reminder of times past. It was just five years…
Participants march during the Tokyo Rainbow Pride parade in Tokyo April 26, 2015.
News
Accused of not being “girly enough,” she was frequently swarmed by students and beaten with a roll of paper. Her teachers witnessed the abuse again and again but did nothing. She begged her junior high classmates for help -- but they told her to endure…
A 20 year old Japanese woman who was bullied by her classmates in junior high school holds a notebook displaying the message...