8888677771 | Japan’s top court rules law requiring reproductive organ removal for gender change unconstitutional | World News

Japan’s Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that a law requiring transgender people to have their reproductive organs removed in order to officially change their gender is unconstitutional.

The decision by the top court’s 15-judge Grand Bench was its first on the constitutionality of Japan’s 2003 law requiring the removal of gonads for a state-recognized gender change, a practice long criticized by international rights and medical groups.
The case was filed by a plaintiff whose request for a gender change in her family registry — to female from her biologically assigned male — was turned down by lower courts.

The decision comes at a time of heightened awareness of issues surrounding LGBTQ+ people in Japan and is a victory for that community.

Currently, transgender people who want to have their biologically assigned gender changed on family registries and other official documents must be diagnosed as having Gender Identity Disorder and undergo an operation to remove their gonads.

International rights and medical groups have criticized the 2003 law as inhumane and outdated. Activists have stepped up efforts to pass an anti-discrimination law since a former aide to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in February that he wouldn’t want to live next to LGBTQ+ people and that citizens would flee Japan if same-sex marriage were allowed.

Festive offer

But changes have come slowly and Japan remains the only Group of Seven member that does not allow same-sex marriage or legal protections, including an effective anti-discrimination law.

The plaintiff, who is only identified as a resident in western Japan, originally filed the request in 2000, saying the surgery requirement forces a huge burden economically and physically and that it violates the constitution’s equal rights protections.
Rights groups and the LGBTQ+ community in Japan have been hopeful for a change in the law after a local family court, in an unprecedented ruling earlier this month, accepted a transgender male’s request for a gender change without the compulsory surgery, saying the rule is unconstitutional.

The special law that took effect in 2004 states that people who wish to register a gender change must have their original reproductive organs, including testes or ovaries, removed and have a body that “appears to have parts that resemble the genital organs” of the new gender they want to register with.

More than 10,000 Japanese have had their genders officially changed since then, according to court documents from the October 11 ruling that accepted Gen Suzuki’s request for a gender change without the required surgery.

Surgery to remove reproductive organs is not required in most of some 50 European and central Asian countries that have laws allowing people to change their gender on official documents, the Shizuoka ruling said. The practice of changing one’s gender in such a way has become main stream in many places around the world, it noted.

In a country of conformity where the conservative government sticks to traditional paternalistic family values and is reluctant to accept sexual and family diversity, many LGBTQ+ people still hide their sexuality due to fear of discrimination at work and schools.

Some groups opposing more inclusivity for transgender people, especially to those changing from male to female, have submitted petitions on Tuesday to the Supreme Court asking it to keep the surgery requirement in place.

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In 2019, the Supreme Court in another case filed by a transgender male seeking a gender registration change without the required sexual organ removal and sterilization surgery found the ongoing law constitutional.

In that ruling, the top court said the law was constitutional because it was meant to reduce confusion in families and society, though it acknowledged that it restricts freedom and could become out of step with changing social values and should be reviewed later.

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