LGBT Understanding Bill
The Bill for the Promotion of Understanding of LGBT People, formerly known as the Bill for the Promotion of Public Understanding of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, is to be passed in this Diet session. The original LGBT legislation, drafted by cross-party lawmakers in 2021, was primarily aimed at prohibiting discrimination; however, stiff opposition from the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) prevented the submission of the bill to the Parliament.
The revised version of the 2021 draft bill was proposed and endorsed by the LDP, Komeito, Japan Restoration Association, and the People’s Democratic Party. The bill underlines the premise of understanding the existence of LGBT people as well as eliminating discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. On the contrary, the opposition party’s proposal is similar to the former anti-discrimination law. The Bill for the Promotion of Understanding of LGBT People was revised within the LDP in the course of negotiations with other parties even after it was submitted to the Diet. The original title used the term “gender identification” (“seijinin” in Japanese) but was later replaced by “gender identity” (“seidouitsusei” in Japanese). Seijinin depends on the subjective decisions undertaken by the persons concerned, while seidouitsusei allows for third-party involvement, even if it is limited to an extent. The initial draft strongly stipulated that “discrimination should not be tolerated” but was later moderated to “there should be no unfair discrimination.”
“Seidouitsusei” (gender identity) was substituted with “jendaa aidenthithi” (katakana expression for gender identity) in the final form in order to gain the support of more political parties. Seidouitsusei can be interpreted as gender identity or gender identification. I am a little dissatisfied with the Diet’s signature iridescent resolution that carries ambiguous meaning. Traditionalist conservatives have harshly criticized the bill, claiming that it will destroy Japan’s good old traditions, culture, and family system. However, most developed countries have some kind of anti-discrimination institution for sexual minorities, and it is no exaggeration to say that this is a global trend. Same-sex partnerships are also spreading rapidly in many municipalities. Therefore, I intend to support this bill.
Nevertheless, it is undeniable that the legislation is yet to address some practical concerns. If “jendaa aidenthithi” is interpreted as gender identification, there is a risk of serious trouble: Males declaring themselves as “females” may enter women’s restrooms, locker rooms, and bathrooms. Without appropriate ways to deal with or forestall these problems, the law would lose its credibility and effectiveness and would be unable to promote the understanding of LGBT people. Robust preventive measures must be developed.
(This is the English translation of an article written by FUNADA Hajime, House of Representatives member, which originally appeared on the e-forum “Hyakka-Seiho (Hundred Flowers in Full Bloom)” of JFIR on June 14, 2023.)