Ahead of Olympics, Tokyo passes law to end discrimination against LGBT communities

The law will prevent people and organizations from using public spaces to indulge in hate speech. It also mandates awareness programs

October 12, 2018 by Peoples Dispatch
The law is expected to lead to similar legislations at a country-wide level

The Tokyo municipal government passed a bill on October 5 to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. The legislation was made for the smooth and inclusive conduct of the Tokyo Summer Olympics that is scheduled to be held in 2020. The law will prohibit organizations and individuals from utilizing public spaces to make hate speech. The legislation also mandates the creation of awareness about LGBT rights through education. The bill was supported by Tokyoites First Party, the Constitutional Democratic Party and Japanese Communist Party. The law will be effective from April 2019.

Japan director at Human Rights Watch Kanae Doi said that “The Tokyo metropolitan government has enshrined in law its commitment to hosting an inclusive and rights-respecting Olympic games”. He also added that “the authorities now need to put the policy into action and end anti-LGBT discrimination in schools, workplaces, and the wider society.”

The Tokyo administration had announced in June that it would provide shelter for homeless peoples, including members of the LGBT community. The city is also expected to have a Pride House to host lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) athletes, volunteers and visitors attending the the 2020  Olympics and Paralympics. A number of concerns had been raised during the Winter Olympics in 2014 in Sochi when the Russian government denied permission for a Pride House on the grounds of traditional morality and and a federal law regarding ‘non-traditional’ sexual relationships.

In Japan, many cities and provinces have progressive policies regarding LGBT relationships. These include local legislation which forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation and provisions for partnership certificates which recognizes  same-sex relationships. At the same time, even though homosexuality is not criminalized in Japan, the country is yet to have a national-level legislation to stop discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.