Japanese lawmakers to examine LGBT discrimination ahead of Tokyo Olympics

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Politicians have formed a multiparty group to look at LGBT rights before the 2020 Olympic Games.

38 lawmakers from multiple parties have come together to discuss the issue of discrimination against LGBT people, in the wake of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The group intends to look at discrimination against sexual minorities in Japan and the rest of the world, and speak to LGBT people about the issues they face.

In the run up to the Sochi Winter Olympics, Russia’s anti-gay laws and widespread discrimination were condemned around the world, and there is concern that Japan will face similar scrutiny. The Olympic charter was updated to formerly affirm the rights and protection of LGBT athletes in the wake of the Sochi controversy.

The group is being lead by Hiroshi Hase, member of the leading Liberal Democratic Party. He said: “As it hosts the Olympic Games, there is no doubt that Japanese society will be questioned on how it treats its sexual minorities. We must substantiate the principles described in the basic plan of the Games.”

The group has no current plans to introduce any legislation, but Hase said: “The first step is not to discriminate. As Diet [Japan’s Parliament] members, we must study and think about issues they are facing in their social lives.”

Japan is largely conservative on LGBT issues, but progress has been made recently, with a district in Tokyo officially recognising same-sex couples. Around 43% of Japanese people support same-sex marriage, but over half the population are against it, and president Shinzo Abe has said he “does not envisage marriage between people of the same sex”.

First Lady Akie Abe took part in Tokyo’s Pride parade in April last year. Japanese-American actor George Takei has spoken of his hope that Japan will follow America’s lead in affirming gay rights.