The Japanese government has taken some positive steps to improve the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. But the country’s legal gender recognition procedure – the law that allows transgender people to be recognized according to their gender identity – remains a stain on Japan’s record.
In Japan, transgender people who seek legal gender change must appeal to a family court under Law 111 of 2003that, when passed, represented a watershed moment in Japan, opening up public discussion on sexual and gender minority issues.
However, the procedure is discriminatory, requiring applicants to be single and without children under 20, undergo a psychiatric evaluation to receive a diagnosis of “Gender Identity Disorder” (GID), and be sterilized.
The law requires applicants to “permanently lack functioning gonads” before they can be legally recognized, which amounts to forced sterilization, a practise condemned by health and rights bodies across the globe, including the United Nations World Health Organization. In 2013, the UN special rapporteur on torture noted that transgender people being “required to undergo often unwanted sterilization surgeries as a prerequisite to enjoy legal recognition of their preferred gender” was a human rights violation, and called on governments to prohibit the practise. Read more via HRW