Rushed Discussions Will Not Advance Cause of Protecting Sexual Minorities

Discrimination is unacceptable against people who feel their gender identity does not correspond with the one they were assigned at birth. However, a bill currently under consideration has too many issues. It is essential to carefully discuss the bill.

Some lawmakers from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party are aiming to submit to the Diet a bill they say will promote understanding of sexual minorities.

The bill would require the government to formulate a basic plan to promote the implementation of measures on LGBT issues, as well as to make public every year the extent to which such steps have been carried out. The bill would also call for companies and schools to take necessary action.

However, the bill does not clearly stipulate what kind of action is considered discrimination against LGBT people, while also leaving the measures that should be implemented up to future discussions.

If the bill is hastily enacted into law without stipulating specific measures to be implemented, it could open the floodgates to excessive claims and demands diverging from the aim of the legislation, possibly causing confusion in society.

For example, what would happen if a transgender woman demands access to a women’s restroom? In sports, should transgender athletes be allowed to compete in women’s events?

If transgender women are granted such access, the rights of women who are not transgender could be violated.

Caution should be exercised to avoid establishing, in the name of recognizing diversity, a law that has not undergone careful consideration. Confusion could arise around arguments that might go too far in claiming discrimination against sexual minorities.

It is claimed that Japan is the only country among the Group of Seven advanced nations that does not have legislation for LGBT people. However, this does not reflect the actual situation. While the other member nations have ordinary regulations prohibiting discrimination against sexual minorities, Japan’s Constitution states that all of the people are equal under the law. There is no significant difference among the countries.

It is unreasonable to insist that the bill should be submitted to the Diet before the G7 summit kicks off on May 19 in Hiroshima.

It can be said that recognizing each country’s history, culture and socially accepted ideas is also part of respecting diversity.

In the first place, there have been many problems over how to advance discussions on the bill.

In February, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida replaced one of his executive secretaries over discriminatory statements the secretary made about sexual minorities. Kishida also told the LDP to make preparations for submitting a bill aimed at promoting the understanding of LGBT people.

The move was probably aimed at avoiding criticism that the Kishida administration does not respect diversity. However, it must be said that the prime minister was too hasty in making public that such a bill would be submitted to the Diet.

In the United States, conflicts are reportedly intensifying over whether children should be taught about LGBT issues. It is important to deepen discussions on appropriate measures for Japan by referring to related steps implemented by other countries.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 13, 2023)