Relationship status of straight and queer individuals Japan 2019
The acronym LGBT stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender and has been in use since the 1990s. It is an umbrella term for individuals identifying as non-heterosexual or non-cisgender, with the latter meaning that the individual's gender identity does not match their sex assigned at birth.
The history of LGBT in JapanJapan has a rich queer history. Homosexual relationships in historic Japan were for most parts of strictly hierarchical, pederastic nature and limited to the all-male realms of monasteries and the samurai class. With the growing influence and wealth of common people in 17th century Japan, the depiction and practice of homosexuality and gender fluidity became a widely popular topic in urban culture. This changed with the arrival of Western ideology. Queerness was portrayed as either pathological or caricatural until well into the second half of the 20th century. Nowadays, Japan’s stance on LGBT rights is fairly progressive compared to other Asian regions. Due to better access to information and education on the topic, familiarity with the term LGBT and its meaning is relatively high among the Japanese population. Yet, Japan is still a far cry away from an equal society, with many LGBT individuals concerned about coming out.
Legalization of same-sex marriage in JapanJapan is the only G7 nation not fully recognizing same-sex marriages. However, a court ruling in March 2021 declared it unconstitutional to bar same-sex couples from getting legally married. While it will certainly take time until an apt law to allow same-sex marriage will be passed, having the perspective to gain equal legal rights to heterosexual couples is a major symbolic victory for the LGBT community in socially conservative Japan.
In past years, some municipalities started to issue partnership certificates, but their benefits are limited, not allowing individuals to inherit their partner’s assets or granting parental rights over their children. In light of the postponed Olympic Games in Tokyo, human rights organizations and LGBT activists are pushing for an Equality Act. This comes to a similar time as the ongoing gender equality discussion, which was sparked by former Tokyo Olympics President Yoshiro Mori’s sexist remark on female participation in meetings, leading to an international media outcry on the status of women in Japanese society.