Subject: [cwj 78] Tokyo Gays' Rights Dumped
From: Corporate Watch in Japanese <>
Date: Fri, 18 Aug 2000 11:06:14 -0700
Seq: 78

Thursday August 17 02:48 AM EDT 
Planet Out

Tokyo Gays' Rights Dumped

SUMMARY: It was big news when the government had GLBT activists help write
human rights guidelines, but their issues have disappeared from the draft

Gays and lesbians were included in the process of developing human rights
guidelines for Tokyo, and the advisory commission included their concerns
in its report, but those do not appear in the draft published June 19. When
Tokyo's Governor Shintaro Ishihara was asked about the omission at a press
conference he responded, "In what way are they discriminated against?" 

Tokyo's gay and lesbian group OCCUR, famed for winning the nation's first
lawsuit against anti-gay discrimination in 1997, met July 29 to consider
how to generate public support for inclusion in the guidelines -- support
the government says it has not seen. The human rights guidelines are
scheduled to be finalized within the next quarter. Neither national nor
local laws in Japan explicitly protect the civil rights of gays and lesbians. 

It was considered a landmark "first" in early 1999 when the governor's
advisory commission invited Tokyo gays and lesbians to testify at an
official hearing and to join other discussions relating to the guidelines.
It was an even bigger "first" when the commission's December 1999 report
recommended inclusion of sexual minorities in new measures to protect human
rights. So it was a source of anger and disappointment to activists to then
be left out of the proposed legislation. 

Their anger was further fueled by Japan's first homicide to be identified
as a gay-bashing attack in February, a death which might have been avoided
had there been less homophobia among the police themselves and more concern
about previous reports that the two perpetrators frequently attacked gay
men who meet in the park where the victim died.  When OCCUR requested a
meeting with the Metropolitan Police Department, they were refused. 

Activist Satoru Ito, who lectures on homosexuality to a wide range of
audiences as part of a project called Sukotan Kikaku
<>, believes the potential impact on social policy
were sexual minorities to be included in the human rights guidelines would
be just as important. He charges that all current social welfare systems
are designed with only married heterosexual couples in mind. He knows
first-hand about the lack of appropriate counseling or support groups
available for gays and lesbians -- many of them contact his project for
help. Some have been referred to neurologists by helpers who believe
homosexuality is an illness. For those outside the larger cities, the
Internet may be their sole source of support. Ito notes that young people's
self-regard is often deeply damaged as they move from parents who don't
understand to teachers and school peers who are often abusive to a larger
society that has no place for them and where they are often mocked. 

Ito told the Daily Yomiuri that in addition to most people's particular
ignorance regarding homosexuality, general Japanese reluctance to talk
about sex works against gays and lesbians. He said, "These negative
attitudes about sex help confuse people about anything related to sex --
including the homosexuality issue, which they think should not be openly
discussed because it falls within the parameters of sexual preference. As a
result, homosexuality becomes synonymous with unspeakably vile acts and is
positioned at the furthest point away from being a civil rights issue." 

[Ed. note: Letters regarding Tokyo's policy may be sent to the Tokyo human
rights department <> and the governor
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Corporate Watch in Japanese
Transnational Resource and Action Center (TRAC)
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San Francisco, CA 94129 USA
Tel: 1-415-561-6472
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