Groundbreaking new law in Japan makes it illegal to out LGBT+ people

Japan Japanese outing LGBT campaigners attend a Pride event in Tokyo, Japan where the first refugee has been accepted on ground of LGBT+ persecution

The Mie region of Japan has become the country’s first prefecture to ban the outing LGBT+ people without their permission.

According to Japan Today, on June 3, governor Eikei Suzuki announced the outing ban as part of a wider anti-discrimination law in the region.

Under the new law, it is illegal to reveal an LGBT+ person’s sexual orientation or gender identity without their permission, and it is also against the law to coerce them into revealing it themselves.

Suzuki said that outing “can destabilise family and working relationships and drive people into isolation by disrupting their friendships and contact with other people”.

Although gay sex has only been criminalised briefly in Japan’s history, same-sex marriage has not been legalised and gender identity and sexual orientation remain taboo.

Suzuki added: “We need to do more to create a society that cares for each other.”

A conference of experts will soon deliberate what the penalty should be for the crime.

Although Mie is the first prefecture in Japan to pass such a law, the city of Kunitachi introduced a similar outing ban in April 2018.

Outing has become an even greater fear for the LGBT+ community in Japan since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. 

With health authorities in Japan probing coronavirus infection routes, many LGBT+ people have lived in fear that they could be outed against their will if they fall ill with the virus.

Health authorities in Japan began contact tracing coronavirus patients to learn how they were infected and to stop the spread of the virus.

The current policy allows governors to arrange questioning of patients and to authorise an investigation of their contacts and the places they’ve visited.

This means LGBT+ people who aren’t yet out could potentially be identified through the people they’ve been meeting, or the bars and clubs they’ve been visiting.