This article was published on February 9th, 2021
The entire world has waited in anticipation of the postponed Olympic and Paralympic Games set to begin in Tokyo, but according to activists, the Japanese government is failing to recognize the rights of all its participants schedule to arrive this summer. Under current law, the laws in the country do not fully protect LGBTQ+ from discrimination and the community and organizations worldwide are speaking out to address this growing concern as the date gets closer.
In a joint statement from All Out, Human Rights Watch, Athlete Ally, and the Japan Alliance for LGBT Legislation, the organizations urged the global community to apply pressure on the Japanese government to pass an Equality Act that protects LGBTQ+ people before the 2021 Summer Olympics. Although the Olympic Charter bans discrimination of any kind, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government currently has an ordinance that protects the LGTBQ+ people from discrimination inside the city, outside of Tokyo it does not apply, and there are already several Olympic competitions that will take place outside the city limits. This means that any fans, athletes, visitors, or athletes in these regions will not be protected from discrimination and this is the grey area that organizations are working diligently to remove.
The current Prime Minister of Japan, Yoshihude Suga, is being pressured to introduce new legislation that protects everyone on their basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity. In a show of solidarity, 116 human rights organizations have thrown their support behind a new ordinance, sending a letter to the prime minister last week, six months ahead of when the Tokyo Olympics are set to begin. The executive director of All Out, Matt Beard, released a statement in response to the co-authored letter:
“This year, all eyes will be on Japan. In these trying times, the Olympic Games will be a welcome and much-needed celebration of humanity in all its beautiful diversity. By granting LGBT+ people protection from discrimination, Japan can prove that it truly supports the Olympic spirit of promoting tolerance and respect.”
All of the organizations have agreed to collect signatures on the petition so that Japan’s leaders will introduce legislation that will protect the rights of LGBTQ+ people within the next six months. With more countries applying pressure on Japan to acknowledge the rights of all its participants, it is expected that the government will resolve the matter and forge a path towards global solidarity that represents the spirit of the Olympic Games.