JAPANESE businesses should do more to promote inclusion and anti-discrimination against the country’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, a senior UN official has said.
“I think there is less progress both in laws and in public attitudes in Japan than the other six countries of the G7,” assistant secretary-general of the UN Human Rights Office Andrew Gilmour told The Japan Times in an interview. “We are hoping that we can encourage better improvement, better acceptance.”
Japan currently has no national anti-discrimination legislation when it comes to employment, housing or other civil matters for LGBT community members.
Surveys have indicated that around half of the population supports legalising gay marriage. Some local governments in Japan now issue same-sex partners legally non-binding certificates seen as equivalent to marriage.
Local jewellery retailer Primo Japan Inc. announced this month that it was rolling out “gender-free” marketing for its wedding rings, in order to be friendlier to same-sex couples.
Nevertheless, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has previously said that the Japanese constitution doesn’t “envisage” same-sex marriage.
“The most powerful element of a society is the private sector. That’s why we are aiming to talk to them,” Gilmour said. According to The Japan Times, only 3.6 percent of 3,693 Japanese businesses surveyed by Mitsubishi UFJ Research said they actively hired and promoted LGBT people.
Last year, rights groups applauded the Japanese education department’s updating of its bullying prevention policy to protect sexual and gender minority students.
A Human Rights Watch report in 2016 found that LGBT students in Japan’s schools faced widespread harassment, abuse and insults from both peers and teachers.