On December 1st, 2016, The National Personnel Authority (NPA), one of the government agencies that manages personnel administration for national public employees in Japan, announced that regulations that aim to prevent sexual harassment will be revised and “behavior or an act based on prejudices toward sexual orientation or gender identity” will be included to the regulations. Discriminatory speech and behavior based on sexual orientation or gender identity will be subject to punishment. This will prevent LGBT discrimination by national public employees.
Japan Alliance for LGBT Legislation(J-ALL) sees this revision as a great chance for NPA to improve current issues surrounding LGBT people. NPA will give instructions to each minister (1) to provide guidance and advice on the revision to the regulations for preventing sexual harassment, (2) to take measures to eliminate and prevent “behavior or an act based on prejudices toward sexual orientation or gender identity”, (3) to ensure each employee pays attention to their behavior and act to avoid “behavior or an act based on prejudices toward sexual orientation or gender identity” and appropriate measures are to be taken when necessary, (4) to provide seminars necessary for preventing sexual harassment, and (5) to establish arrangements and procedures for responding to complaints.
With the new guidelines, discriminatory speech or behavior against LGBT people outside of a workplace can be subject to punishment. Therefore, national public employees are required to pay close attention to their behavior and act not only when they are with their clients during working hours, but also in social gatherings such as a drinking party.
It should be noticed there will be a change to procedures for responding to complaints. People will be able to choose both male and female consultants. This change will make it easier for those with various gender identities to use the service.
In the meantime, this revision to the regulations in Equal Employment Operation Law, what we call “Sexual harassment policy,” does not guarantee all discrimination against LGBT people in a place of work is appropriately dealt with by authorities. It’s nothing more than that the new regulations just stipulates “sexual harassment happens to anyone regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity”, which is totally obvious. “The effect this change can bring to us is very limited,” Yushi Harashima, a lawyer said.
“I am mad. The government made two different rules for sexual harassment. The new sexual harassment guidelines for national public employees clearly say ridicule of any type based on sexual orientation or gender identity is sexual harassment, but the guidelines made by Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare do not ban sexual harassment toward LGBT people. This means only LGBT national public employees are protected when LGBT people are sexually harassed,” a trans woman councilor from Setagaya Ward, Aya Uekawa said.