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Japan Municipalities Increasingly Ban Outing LGBT Individuals

A growing number of Japanese municipalities are implementing regulations to prevent the disclosure of an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity without their consent, according to statements from researchers and officials on Sunday.

This development underscores the proactive efforts of some local governments to safeguard the rights of LGBT individuals, even ahead of the central government. The legislation enacted in June aimed at promoting understanding of sexual minorities does not explicitly forbid acts like “outing.”

As of October 1, the count of municipalities enacting ordinances against outings has quintupled over the past three years, now totaling 26 across 12 different prefectures, including Mie and Saitama. This information comes from the Research Institute of Local Government and statements by municipal officials.

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The act of outing considered a severe violation of human rights, was characterized as an abuse of power in the guidelines for legislation introduced in June 2020, focusing on women’s empowerment and harassment regulation.

In July of this year, it was revealed that a man had been determined eligible for compensation by a Tokyo labor office the previous year, as his boss had disclosed his homosexuality without his consent. However, the current legal framework mainly pertains to workplace settings.

The harmful ramifications of outing came to the forefront of national awareness in 2015 when a graduate student at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo tragically died by suicide after being publicly disclosed as homosexual. In response to this tragedy, the city of Kunitachi, where the university is located, became the first local government to implement regulations prohibiting the outing of LGBT individuals in April 2018.

While Mie in central Japan and Saitama near Tokyo have enacted anti-outing measures at the prefectural level, it’s important to note that none of these ordinances across Japan carry legal penalties.

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