The Japanese Supreme Court unanimously upheld Law 111, which requires transgender people looking to officially change their gender to undergo sterilization by removing their original reproductive organs, causing human rights and LGBT activists to immediately denounce the ruling.
The Supreme Court denied Takakito Usui, a transgender man, an appeal against the 2004 law, citing that the law was made to prevent “problems in parent-child relations” and “societal confusion.” However, despite upholding the law, the judges also claimed the law was invasive and proposed regular reviews of it.
Usui appealed to the Supreme Court after the lower courts failed to grant him legal recognition as a male while still having his female reproductive glands. Usui said that forced sterilization violated his right to self-determination and is unconstitutional.
Japan’s ruling party, the Liberal Democratic Party, has a history of making discriminatory statements against LGBT people. Katsuei Hirasawa, a lower house legislator, said that “a nation would collapse if everyone became LGBT.” In addition, another legislator, Mio Sugita, has criticized using taxpayer dollars to back same-sex marriage, describing LGBT people as “unproductive.”
Japan’s government is also facing multiple lawsuits from people with disabilities who were forced to be sterilized under a 1948 Eugenics Protection Law that was designed to “prevent the birth of poor-quality descendants.”
Japan is not the only country with sterilization laws. Twenty-two of the countries under the European Court of Human Rights jurisdiction still require sterilization for a legal gender change, and it has since ordered an end to the requirement in 2017. Human Rights Watch believes Japan’s ruling on sterilization is “incompatible with international human rights standards, goes against the times, and deviates far from best global practices.”
Media Resources: Associated Press 1/25/19; CNN 1/25/19; The Japan Times 1/5/19; The Guardian 9/26/18