Increase in ‘outings’ of LGBTI people in Japan has experts very worried

Japan Pride Parade

LGBTI groups in Japan are alarmed at the rapid increase in of ‘outings’, which refers to publicly revealing a person’s sexuality and/or gender identity against their will.

The Shakaiteki Hosetsu Support Center told Japan Today it had received an increase in calls in the six years from 2012 about outings to its helpline since 2012. It received 110 calls in that time about the issue.

But the center only categorized calls based on outings three of those six years. On top of that many calls went unanswered, so the center believed that number could be 24 times higher.

LGBTI groups have said the increase in outings has forced people to quit their jobs or education. They said many experienced mental health issues.

The parents of a 25-year-old graduate student who died by suicide after his classmate outed him sued that student and the university. They claimed the university failed to deal with their son’s needs appropriately.

In February, they reached a settlement with the classmate but the Tokyo District Court dismissed their case against the university. They plan to appeal that decision.

Outings should be a criminal offence

‘Outing someone destroys human relationships,’ said lawyer Kazuyuki Minami who represents the parents after the verdict.

‘The court offered no mention at all on the substantive question of whether or not outing is an unlawful act,’ he said, clearly frustrated by the court’s decision.’

Lawyers have argued ‘outings’ should be considered a crime.

While homosexuality is not illegal in Japan, sexuality and gender issues are very taboo.

‘Many sexual minorities are in a situation where they feel they must hide,’ said lawyer Shinya Maezono who runs a legal support website for LGBTI people.

‘First of all, people other than those concerned need to understand sexual minorities better and then we can hope that (it will allow LGBT people to) become more open.’

Last month, Japan upheld its controversial laws which requires trans people to undergo sterilization if they want to transition. A March survey revealed half of LGBTI students in Japan looking for their first job have had ‘uncomfortable’ experiences during interviews.

But there is some movement on LGBTI issues as landmark cases started on Monday (15 April) to hear complaints against Japan’s ban on same-sex marriage.

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