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LGBT discrimination by national public servants now subject to punishment

The National Personnel Authority (NPA) has issued changes starting this year on how regulations for preventing sexual harassment are to be implemented at government ministries and agencies, explicitly stating that discriminatory speech and behavior regarding LGBT people constitute sexual harassment.

    The NPA, which manages personnel administration for national public employees, now clearly says that discriminatory remarks and behavior relating to sexual orientation or gender identity -- like saying that "homosexuals are sickening" or calling someone a "man-woman" -- constitute sexual harassment. The rules apply to some 280,000 national public servants, and those who violate the rules are subject to punishment.

    According to LGBT groups, saying "You're not married because you're gay" to an unmarried person, or ridiculing someone for having a gender identity that differs from their assigned sex also constitute sexual harassment.

    "We've long understood these behaviors to be examples of sexual harassment, but as issues surrounding sexual minorities have become more prevalent in our society in recent years, we decided to make the rules clearer," an official with the NPA said.

    Sexual harassment guidelines for the private sector, which are set by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, stipulate that obscene remarks and behavior toward sexual minorities constitute sexual harassment. However, the guidelines have no clear stipulations regarding speech and behavior based on prejudices toward sexual minorities.

    The Japan Alliance for LGBT Legislation (J-ALL), which aims to have legislation outlawing discrimination against sexual minorities passed, has received many complaints from LGBT people. Multiple people have said that when they came out at their place of work, colleagues went around telling others to "watch out" because they were homosexual. Still others said that at gatherings where alcohol was involved, their bosses yelled at them, "Are you a homosexual? Act more like a man!"

    "The National Personnel Authority took the initiative to demonstrate their position that they won't tolerate discrimination," J-All Secretary-General Yuichi Kamiya said, praising the move. "We seek that similar action be taken by local governments and private corporations."

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