‘Sterilisation’ Rule for Transgender People Seeking Gender Change, Upheld by Japan Court
Transgender people in Japan seeking to legally change their gender will have to undergo sterilisation, as Japan has upheld the law effectively.
A transgender man Takakito Usui had appealed to overturn Law 111 – a law that requires applicants to “permanently lack functioning” reproductive parts to qualify for gender affirmation – as he wanted to change his gender. However, on Thursday, the Supreme Court unanimously rejected Usui’s case, citing the 2003 constitutional law.
Usui’s lawyer Tomoyasu Oyama told media, “It is unthinkable in this day and time that the law requires a sex-change operation to change gender. When the law was established 15 years ago, LGBT people had to make a bitter decision and swallow the conditions to pave a narrow way for official change of gender. With this decision, I hope lawmakers will change the law to support the wishes of the LGBT community.”
Suki Chung, Asia Pacific campaign manager at Amnesty International, called the judgment “a blow for the recognition of transgender people in Japan. It is a missed opportunity to address the discrimination transgender people face.”
“Forcing people to undertake medical treatment in order to obtain legal gender recognition violates their right to the highest attainable standard of health. We urge the Japanese government to end this discriminatory and highly intrusive policy,” she told media.
More than 7,000 people have undergone the change in gender registration since the law was first passed. Initially, the court claimed that “problems” between parents and children could occur in case of the absence of law. It also stated that the law would prevent societal “confusion”.
While Usui’s case was ruled out, an additional opinion calling on society to “embrace the diversity of sexual identity” was issued by two judges.
LGBT groups across Japan and world have criticized the sterilisation law. In 2013, the UN’s special reporter on human rights called on all states “to outlaw forced or coerced sterilization in all circumstances and provide special protection to individuals belonging to marginalised groups.”
Human Rights Watch said the 2003 law “remains a stain on Japan’s record”, after report was released in 2017 on the advancement in the rights of transgender people.
The report stated, “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’, and be sterilised.”
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