Japanese LGBT community has seen a series of social changes for the last few years such as official recognition of same-sex partners in multiple local municipalities. With these situations as a background, Kyoto Gender Equality Promotion Association conducted its first survey on LGBTs among youth and released the result. The 640 respondents aged 15-25 were randomly chosen from six universities and one college, and City Activity Center in Kyoto City.
According to the result, 2.8% of the respondents identified themselves as sexual minority. All the respondents are young so many heterosexual respondents answered that they were supportive or acceptive of sexual minority. For example, 60-70% of the heterosexual respondents said they would be surprised but willing to listen or act in the same manner as before when a person close to them had a different sexual orientation. More than 80% of the respondents answered that there should be more political measures for sexual minority in Japan.
“More and more countries are taking steps toward sexual diversity. It is significant to conduct surveys and get a grip on how younger generation sees LGBTs and their coming-out issues. This survey helps us find ways for better support for sexual minority in the future.” Personnel from Kyoto Gender Equality Promotion Association explained the purposes of the survey.
To the Q1 “Please mark all the words you know: sexual minority, LGBT, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and gender identity disorder, ” more than 90% of the respondents answered they know the words: “Gay”, “Lesbian”, and “Gender identity disorder.” On the other hand, only 60% of the respondents marked “LGBT” and “transgender”. The personnel explained that the awareness of the words:”LGBT” and “transgender” is low because those words are relatively new and it can be difficult even for LGBTs themselves to obtain information about LGBTs and their community.
To the Q2:”Do you understand the meaning of the word:’LGBT’?”, 53% of the respondents answered yes. The personnel explained that the word: “LGBT” is being widely used and discussed by mass media and almost all the respondents who have heard of the word:”LGBT” understand its meaning.
To the Q3:”How many people in Japan do you think are sexual minority?” 45% of the respondents answered they think 1% of the Japanese population are sexual minority. 38.5% of the respondents answered 5%, which is the correct number. The personnel explained that the younger generation have better understanding of LGBTs because only 21.3% of the respondents knew the right answer on a different survey,”Survey Research in Yodogawa Ward,” conducted among people of all ages by Nijiiro Diversity in 2015.
To the Q4: “How often do you see or hear someone gossiping and labeling someone else as homosexual, name-calling someone about his/her sexuality, treating someone unfairly as ‘not fully man or woman’ or showing discriminatory performance such as cross-dressing with the purpose of ridicule in social gatherings?” 61.1% of the LGBT respondents and 42.6% of the heterosexual respondents answered “often” or “sometimes.” The personnel explained that LGBTs are more sensitive about this issue and LGBTs themselves tend to have more discriminatory experience than straight people. Heterosexual people say or do discriminatory things to LGBTs without knowing it, but a lot of LGBTs feel hurt.
To the Q5:”what would be the closest feeling that you would feel when a person close to you told you he/she is sexual minority? more than 50% of the respondents said that they would be “surprised, but willing to listen, “try to understand that person” or “act in the same manner as before.” Less than 10% of the respondents answered that they “would not understand that person” or “keep some distance.” The personnel explained that people tend to be passive but acceptive and women are more likely to be acceptive of sexual minority compared to men. The personnel also explained that it can be because of the lack of male role models on mass media who have understanding of LGBTs. Approximately 40% of the respondents said that coming-out from someone close to them would be great because they would feel trusted and want to do something for that person. The personnel thinks that those supportive voices have power to alleviate fears and struggles of LGBT community.
To the Q6:”Do you think Japan is a good country for sexual minority to live in? more than 80% of the respondents answered “No” or “Not so much.” The personnel explained that many feel that LGBTs in Japan are in a difficult situation.
To the Q7:”Do you think political measures for LGBTs are needed in Japan? 83% of the respondents answered yes.
To the Q8: “what kind of initiatives or political measures do you think are needed? 63% of the respondents answered “changes in social systems.” 50% of them answered “education at schools.” 42% of them answered “opening community spaces for LGBTs.” 40% of them answered “consultation services.” In comparison between the LGBT respondents and the heterosexual respondents, it is interesting that 40% of the heterosexual respondents answered “consultation services are needed” ; nevertheless only 17% of the LGBT respondents think so. The personnel said “the result is very similar to the survey conducted by Nijiiro Diversity. Many LGBT feel that people at consultation services would be useless or would not understand them. We need to make sure consultation services are helpful to LGBTs and let them know that fact when we launch the services.”
“One person out of thirteen people is said to be an LGBT. LGBTs are everywhere of course in Kyoto, too. I would like to achieve better understanding of sexual minority by visualizing levels of understanding” said, Yoko Ichihara, a chief manager of Kyoto Gender Equality Promotion Service Planning Department.