Now Reading
A Japanese region has made it illegal to out someone as LGBT+

A Japanese region has made it illegal to out someone as LGBT+

  • Outing ‘can destabilize family and working relationships and drive people into isolation’ says governor.
Eikei Suzuki, governor of Mie Prefecture.

Mie prefecture – one of 43 Japanese regions – has made it illegal to out someone’s sexuality or gender identity without their permission.

The historic move highlights concerns in Japan over how South Korea tackled a ‘second wave’ of coronavirus cases.

A cluster of cases was linked to one of Seoul’s LGBT+ districts. As a result, the government urged people to come forward, but many resisted as they didn’t want to be outed.

So far Mie prefecture hasn’t revealed how it will punish people who out an LGBT+ person. Officials are still thinking about potential penalties.

However Eikei Suzuki, Mie’s governor, who signed the new ordinance, has highlighted how damaging outing can be.

Suzuki said in a statement outing ‘can destabilize family and working relationships and drive people into isolation by disrupting their friendships and contact with other people.

‘We need to do more to create a society that cares for each other.’

One social media user thanked the governor saying: ‘I hope this will be used throughout the country, and I hope that understanding of LGBTQ and sexual minorities will advance.’

‘Outing is a life-threatening harassment’

Mie, with a population of nearly 2million people is the first prefecture in Japan to make outing a crime.

However, the city of Kunitachi, a suburb of the Tokyo prefecture passed a similar ordinance in April 2018.

The city acted after the death of a male student in June 2015. He died by suicide after a classmate outed him to a group of nine friends on a messaging app. The classmate messaged: ‘It’s impossible for me to hide the fact that you’re gay anymore. Sorry.’

Moreover, outing is a widespread problem for LGBT+ people in Japan.

Last year, the Japan Times reported that just one private support center had received over 100 calls to its hotline from LGBT+ people upset about someone outing them from 2012 to 2018.

Many of the callers said the person who outed them was someone they’d told in confidence.

Yuichi Kamiya, executive director of the LGBT Law Federation in Tokyo, said: ‘Outing is a life-threatening harassment. Administrative regulations should be expanded.’

It is fairly common for Japan’s cities and regions to legislate on LGBT+ issues in the absence of national progress. For example, 51 cities and districts now recognize same-sex partnerships, while Japan’s national government delays same-sex marriage legislation