Japanese city waters down rights protection for gays

Anthony Cuesta | September 26, 2006

TOKYO — The Japanese municipal assembly of Miyakonojo, Miyazaki Prefecture, decided Friday to exclude sexual minorities, including homosexuals, from its ordinance on human rights protection.

According to the Japan Times, the 2004 ordinance stipulated that the city respects the human rights of every person "regardless of gender or sexual orientation," but the assembly approved the new ordinance after deleting the passage on sexual minorities.

The Times reports that it is rare to see a passage referring to homosexuals in local government ordinances on human rights protection.

"The spirit of the law, its intention, remains although the phrase has been changed," said Meiko Kawasaki to the China Post. Kawasaki is in charge of gender equality affairs at city hall.

According to the Post, the international organization Human Rights Watch had written to Miyakonojo Mayor Makoto Nagamine, who introduced the amendment, protesting the change and urging the city to reconsider.

The Post reports that on Friday, Japan's first openly lesbian politician, Kanako Otsuji, expressed disappointment and anger.

"I really want to ask those who made this decision why they made it," said Otsuji, a local legislator in the western Japanese city of Osaka who had campaigned against the change, in a media statement.

"If this doesn't change anything, why did they have to amend it?" she said. "We can only see this as homophobia.� – Issued by Gay Link Content

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