On June 3rd, the central Japanese prefecture of Mie signalled that it planned to release an ordinance that would ban being outed—the process of having one’s sexual orientation or gender identity revealed—without consent (as reported by The Mainichi). This marks the first time that any such protections would be legislated at the prefecture-level in Japan, and is an incredibly important step in ensuring that LGBTQ+ Japanese can live openly and proudly in public.
The ordinance, planned to be implemented in fiscal year 2020, would also ban the forced disclosure of sexual orientation or gender identity, providing essential protections in the workplace for the LGBTQ+ community in the prefecture. “There has been significantly less progress both in laws and in public attitudes in Japan than the other six countries of the G7,” said Fabrice Houdart, Out Leadership Managing Director of Global Equality Initiatives. “It is encouraging to see that local authorities, such as Shibuya or the prefecture of Mie, are filling the gap that the government is leaving open in terms of legal protections and equal rights.”
The legislation comes on the tail of a recent COVID-19 outbreak in South Korea at a known LGBTQ+ club, where fear over being outed caused tracing of the virus to become impossible. With fears of a looming second wave of infections, passing protective measures such as this one is critically important not only to the LGBTQ+ community in Mie, but in the public safety of all its inhabitants.
The Mie Prefectural Government’s step in ensuring the safety of its LGBTQ+ community is an important start in transforming Japan’s legislature to protect its LGBTQ+ population, and should serve as a reminder of all that is left to be done.