Japan’s Government Makes Huge Strides to Protect LGBT Youths, But More Can Be Done

Japan’s updated national bullying prevention policy will for the first time protect sexual and gender minority students.

“Japan’s new policy on bullying is an important step toward ensuring equal access to education for all Japanese children,” said Kanae Doi, Japan director at Human Rights Watch. “The government is demonstrating leadership in educating and empowering teachers to protect LGBT students.”

According to Human Rights Watch, “The updated Basic Policy for the Prevention of Bullying, which the Education Ministry revised on March 14, 2017, mandates that schools should prevent bullying of students based on their sexual orientation or gender identity by ‘promot[ing] proper understanding of teachers on…sexual orientation/gender identity as well as mak[ing] sure to inform on the school’s necessary measures regarding this matter.’ The policy follows a 2015 directive from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT) regarding transgender students and a 2016 MEXT guidebook for teachers about LGBT students.”

The next step for local activists is to work on changing an amendment to end the country’s discriminatory policy on transgender men and women. Currently in Japan trans people must get a mental disorder diagnosis and become sterilized to legally change his or her gender. This can have devastating effects on youths.

“Japan’s support for two recent United Nations Human Rights Council resolutions on LGBT rights and co-chairing the 2016 UNESCO conference on LGBT bullying should be points of pride for the government,” Doi said. “By amending the Basic Policy for the Prevention of Bullying to include sexual orientation and gender identity, Japan has taken the crucial step of bringing its own policies in line with its international human rights obligations.”

The featured image is from the Human Rights Watch: “These comics tell the stories of specific individuals Human Rights Watch interviewed, using their own words to describe their experiences. In a few instances the artist added language to provide necessary context. © 2016 Taiji Utagawa”


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