Japanese Region Mie Criminalizes Outing LGBTQIA+ People Without Consent
The Japanese region of Mie has now made it illegal for people to out someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity without their consent, or coerce them into revealing it themselves.
Eikei Suzuki, the governor of the Mie region, which has a population of nearly two million people, signed the new ordinance that criminalizes non-consensual, public outing last week. “[Outing] can destabilize family and working relationships and drive people into isolation by disrupting their friendships and contact with other people. We need to do more to create a society that cares for each other,” Suzuki stated. While the move has garnered widespread support from the local LGBTQIA+ community in Japan, legislators are currently working out the details of the law, including the penalty for the perpetrators of such harassment.
Non-consensual outings are a growing menace in Japan, resulting in the severe ramifications in a society where the “nail that sticks out gets hammered down,” according to Japanese writer Takumi Toguchi’s report in The Japan Times. Shakaiteki Hosetsu Support Centre, a private organization in Japan, said that it received around 2,640 calls from people since 2012, who said they were either outed by someone they trusted and had confided in, or were outed and badmouthed by peers.
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In fact, in August 2015, a student from Hitotsubashi University’s School of Law committed suicide after being outed by a classmate. Subsequently, in January 2018, the city of Kunitachi in Tokyo, where the university is located, criminalized outing, or attempting to force someone to disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity.
But, in addition to the deepening nationwide problem of such outings in Japan, Governor Suzuki was also reportedly perturbed by Japanese neighbor, South Korea, urging people who visited any gay bars in the country to come forward after a wave of Covid19 cases linked to the country’s gay bars in Seoul came to light — effectively forcing people from the LGBTQIA+ community to come out against their will. In order to prevent a similar scenario from unfolding in Mie, he rushed to impose the ban.
Outing someone without their consent is a massive breach of privacy, and violation of personal choice. Forcing an individual to reveal a deeply personal part of their identity on someone else’s terms can be traumatic. “Outing is a life-threatening harassment. Administrative regulations should be expanded,” Yuichi Kamiya, Executive Director of the LGBT Law Federation in Tokyo, told Tokyo Shimbun.
In a world that continues to grapple with homophobia on so many levels on an everyday basis, merely legalizing homosexuality is not enough. This example from Japan demonstrates how countries around the world still have a lot to do in order to safeguard their queer citizens from the multi-faceted manifestations of homophobia in their day-to-day lives.