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SOCIETY > Human Rights

Prejudice against LGBT individuals to be classified as sexual harassment

  • February 3, 2017
  • , Mainichi , p. 10
  • JMH Translation

The National Personnel Authority (NPA) has revised this year the regulation for preventing sexual harassment within ministries and agencies, clearly specifying in its notification that words, actions, and teasing based on prejudice against LGBT individuals will be classified as sexual harassment. For example, such discriminatory comments as “gay people are disgusting” or saying that a man is “effeminate” or a woman is “butch” will constitute sexual harassment. The revision will apply to about 280,000 national public service personnel. Violations of the revised regulations will be subject to punishment.


The regulation newly defines “words and actions based on prejudice against sexual orientation and sexual identity” as constituting sexual harassment. According to a LGBT-related organization, comments such as, “I wonder if you’re gay since you’ve been single for so long,” and teasing people as if they are the opposite gender from the one they identify will be considered sexual harassment. “We view the words and actions specified in the revision as sexual harassment,” said an NPA official. “As LGBT issues have become a social problem, the NPA decided to add such problematic words and actions to the revision.” 


The guidelines for the civilian sector set by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare define obscene words and actions toward sexual minorities as sexual harassment, but not those based on prejudice.


However, the Japan Alliance for Legislation to Remove Social Barriers based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, an organization that aims to legally prohibit discrimination against LGBT individuals, has received many complaints from the LGBT community, such as, “When I came out as gay in my office, people started saying things like, ‘Watch out for him because he’s (she’s) a homo (lesbian),’” and “My supervisor yelled at me by saying ‘Are you a homo? Behave like a man.’”


“The NPA took the initiative in demonstrating a stance of not tolerating discrimination,” said Director Yuichi Kamiya of the organization, giving high marks to the revision. “Local governments and the civilian sector should follow suit.”

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