LGBT is an initialism that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. The term was coined in the mid-to-late 1980 to replace the term gay in reference to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Activists believed that the term gay community failed to accurately represent all those to whom it was meant to refer. The term LGBT has been used and adopted into the mainstream as an umbrella term which is commonly used when labeling topics which pertain to gender identity and sexuality. The term LGBT is intended to emphasize a diversity of sexuality and gender identity-based cultures. Collectively those who are non-heterosexual or non-cisgender can be referred to as LGBT community as opposed to exclusively people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. This essay seeks to discuss the LGBT community in Japan and also discuss the impacts of LGBT rights on families in the country.
Around the world, people face different types of inequalities and violence. In other times, people have been subjected to torture and even execution. These actions are as a result of how they look, who they are or who they love. The LGBT community has been subjected to these kinds of epidemic violence, legal discrimination as well as other human rights violations on the account of their gender identity and sexual orientation. Gender identity and sexual orientation are integral aspects of ourselves and thus should never be used to discriminate or violate other human beings. Various activists have come out to condemn the discrimination of the LGBT community based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.
Human rights watch documents and expose abuses based on sexual orientation and sexual identity worldwide. These abuses include among others torture, murders, executions, arrest under unjust laws, censorship, unequal treatment, discrimination in places of work, discrimination in the provision of health and housing, abuse against children, domestic violence and denial of family rights and recognition. Other laws that affect LGBT people include laws concerning the recognition of same-sex relationships and marriages; laws concerning LGBT parenting which also include adoption by LGBT people, anti-bullying legislation to protect LGBT children in school, bathroom bills affecting access to sex-segregated facilities by transgender people, laws relating to sexual orientation and military service among others. Human rights and LGBT rights groups advocate for laws and policies that will protect the rights of everybody i.e. protect their dignity.
Different countries have already passed legislation that acknowledges the rights and freedom of the LGBT community around the world. Same-sex reunions have been recognized legally in Scotland, Luxembourg, the Mexican state of Coahuila, nineteen U.S states, Chile and Croatia. As of 2018 25 countries mostly those with developed democracies or developing democracies recognized LGBT rights. However, some 10 countries mostly the Islamic countries where Sharia law is recognized have imposed the death penalty for homosexuality. The United Nations Human Rights Council in 2011 passed its first resolution which recognized the rights of LGBT community. After this recognition, the office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a report of the violations rights of the LGBT people. These included criminalization of homosexuality activity, hate crimes and discrimination. The U.N after the resolution urged all countries to enact laws protecting basic LGBT rights.
Japan is a country that seems to be ahead of everybody in terms of advancements in many aspects. However, the country is lagging behind in one are i.e. issues relating to LGBT. While Japan prohibits discrimination based on race, sex, creed, social status or family origin in Article 14 of its constitution, there lacks a law that allows individuals or groups to see legal redress for discrimination. Japan, to this date, has not supported the recommendations by the United Nations on the enactment of laws that protect LGBT rights. Including sexual orientation as further constitutional grounds of prohibited discrimination has not been widely supported to this date in the country. There is no specific regulation on anti-discrimination and human rights as well as there is no independent human rights institution established to ensure the protection and promotion of human rights. The United Nations Human Right Council has in a number of times noted the failure of Japan to establish an independent human rights institution in accordance with the standards of the Paris Principle.
Though Japan does not criminalize same-sex relationships and acts, the country's laws do not guarantee substantive equality on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. The law also does not protect the LGBT people against discrimination and abuses. Generally, Japan lacks laws that protect against discrimination applications of the civil and political rights which should be enjoyed by the LGBT community. An example is a law in the country that protects against spousal violence and protection of victims as well as the public housing law. These laws only apply to opposite-sex couples i.e. individuals those who have married or are unmarried. However, this law fails to protect same-sex couples.
Japan law defines LGBT persons as people having gender identity disorder. The law allows for this group of people to undergo sex reassignment surgery to legally change their gender. However, this is discriminatory to the LGBT community as to do so one is required to meet specific conditions. Japan, in general, does not recognize the rights of the LGBT person. The LGBT person is labeled as suffering from gender identity disorder (GID) to date. The LGBT person in Japan faces discrimination in housing, education, healthcare, and employment opportunities. They are also subjected to various forms of physical and psychological verbal violence, sexual assaults by family members, the public and even the government. It is a challenge for LGBT persons to establish families in the country due to constrains by the lack of laws protecting LGBT persons against violence and discrimination.
Despite the fact that there lacks legislation protecting the LGBT persons in Japan, there is evidence that there exist LGBT families. Though same-sex marriages are not recognized in Japan, ten cities and wards as of 2019 in the country had legalized same-sex partnerships. This legalization provides for some of the benefits of marriage. The Japanese majority according to a public opinion conducted by Pew Research Center in 2013 shows that 54% supported homosexuality and the LGBT community while 36% did not support same-sex relationships. Japan in 2009 reportedly allowed its nationals to marry same-sex foreign partners. However, these marriages were only to be conducted in countries where the law legalizes same-sex marriage. Initially, the government did not offer a key document required for citizens to wed overseas. However, 2009, the Ministry of Justice instructed the relevant local authorities to issue the key certificate. The certificates that the person issued it is single and of legal age. It is difficult for same-sex couples to start a family. It is difficult to adopt a child or even conceive via assisted reproductive technology. These options are restricted to married couples under the law. Only in rare cases can an LGBT person be granted to foster a child through in this arrangement the child's foster parent will only be that person and not considered as that person's partner.
In conclusion, though LGBT people lack full legal equality in Japan, there is hope that this situation is likely to change in the near future. Since 2015 some cities in the country have offered partnership certificates to recognize the relationships of same-sex couples. The step by the national government to issue a key certificate required in same-sex marriages involving its citizens overseas is also another step towards the right direction. Most of the population in Japan also supports the legalization of homosexuality indicating that soon many political parties and institutions will become open to LGBT rights.
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