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Japan’s legal system for protecting its LGBTQ minorities is considered insufficient compared to other developed countries. For this reason, LGBTQ persons and support groups have pushed for legislation that prohibits discrimination against persons who identify as LGBTQ. In 2023, in the run-up to the G7 Summit which was chaired by Japan, the situation regarding LGBTQ rights in Japan received attention from other countries, prompting accelerated discussions on improving legislation. However, mainly due to opposition from conservative lawmakers, this Act, which was passed as a result, does not directly prohibit discrimination, but only promotes citizens’ understanding of the diversity of sexual orientation and gender identity. There is also no provision for penalties for violation of the Act.  

The main contents of the Act are as follows. 

Basic Principles

Measures to promote understanding must be implemented based on the principle that all citizens, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, should be respected as individuals who equally enjoy fundamental human rights, and with the recognition that there should be no unjust discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.  

Roles of the State and local governments

The State and local governments must formulate and implement measures for promoting understanding and take necessary measures (e.g. steady dissemination of knowledge and development of consultation systems) in light of the progress made in research promoted by the State regarding the diversity of sexual orientation and gender identity.    

Once a year, the Government must publicize the status of its implementation of the measures that it takes to promote understanding. The Government must also formulate a ‘Basic Plan’ for the promotion of understanding, must review the Plan approximately every three years, and must make changes to the Plan if deemed necessary.  

Efforts of employers and educational institutions

Employers must take steps to promote their workers’ understanding of LGBTQ issues by carrying out educational and training activities, developing an appropriate working environment, securing consultation opportunities, and cooperating with the measures taken by the State and local governments. Employers must also take other necessary measures such as providing their workers with information to promote understanding of LGBTQ issues.  

Educational establishments (excluding kindergarten and the kindergarten sections of special-needs schools) must similarly take steps to promote their students’ understanding of LGBTQ issues, with the cooperation of families, local residents and other relevant persons. They are required to carry out educational and training activities, develop a positive educational environment, secure consultation opportunities, and cooperate with the measures taken by the State and local governments. They must also take other necessary measures such as developing consultation mechanisms regarding the educational environment for their students.  

Implementation

In implementing the measures provided for in the Act, attention must be paid to ensure that all citizens, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, can live in peace. The Government will formulate the Guidelines necessary to ensure the smooth implementation of these policies.  

Takeaway for employers

The Act does not directly prohibit discriminatory treatment, and basically does not directly affect the rights and obligations of private persons. Some members of LGBTQ communities and support groups have expressed dismay over the fact that the Act was designed to promote understanding rather than prohibiting discrimination.  

However, the Act is nonetheless significant in that it provides that the State and local governments, employers, and educational establishments must make efforts to promote understanding of LGBTQ issues. While there are many points to be monitored, including the content of the Basic Plan and Guidelines to be formulated by the Government, it is hoped that the Act will lead to expansion of activities to promote understanding and tolerance.