Govt Must Devise Measures to Prevent Social Confusion

A law of questionable necessity has been enacted without addressing any of the various concerns that were raised. The government should take immediate steps to prevent social confusion.

As the current ordinary Diet session draws to a close, a law to promote understanding of gender minorities, known as LGBT, was enacted.

No other Group of Seven country has legislation that specifically focuses on dealing with gender minorities. The nation’s LGBT law can be said to be unique in the international community.

In the first place, the Constitution — Japan’s supreme law — stipulates, “All of the people are equal under the law.” There is no reason to specifically prohibit discrimination against LGBT people.

Despite this, both houses of the Diet reached a decision after only about three hours of deliberation, reportedly because Prime Minister Fumio Kishida strongly instructed the Liberal Democratic Party to do so.

It is obvious that the LGBT law is flawed. The prime minister bears a heavy responsibility for rushing its enactment.

The law stipulates that “there shall be no unjust discrimination” against LGBT persons. However, the definition of discrimination is vague and could be misused.

There have been actual crimes in which men with illicit intent pretended to be women so as to enter the women’s section in public bathhouses or women’s restrooms. In the future, attempts to handle such entry as a crime may be countered with the argument that it is “unfair discrimination,” using the LGBT law as a shield.

The law’s description of “gender identity,” a phonetic transliteration in katakana characters, also makes it difficult to understand the term.

Also included in the law is the promotion of education about gender minorities at elementary and junior high schools “with the cooperation of local residents and concerned parties.”

Is it necessary to teach sensitive gender issues at a stage when children are not yet mentally mature? Activists or civil society groups with radical views may possibly interfere with the educational process.

Since there is a risk of confusion on various points, it is important to find ways to prevent trouble.

Based on the new law, the government is required to formulate a basic plan to improve understanding of gender minorities.

How will women-only spaces be protected from crime? What measures should be taken by the operators of such facilities as swimming pools and hot springs to maintain the distinction between men and women? There is an urgent need to mitigate the possible harmful effects of the legislation.

People who have been calling for the elimination of gender discrimination have also advocated the legalization of same-sex marriage. The prime minister has made remarks that seem to indicate he agrees with them, such as, “It’s important to promote understanding.”

As the prime minister himself has said, same-sex marriage is “an issue that will change society,” so it is unacceptable to be swayed by the words “respect for diversity” and make hasty judgments.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 18, 2023)