Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare issues notifications to prohibit unfair treatment against same-sex couples in hotels.

Hotel Palm Royal Naha is famous for its LGBT friendliness.

Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare revised the guidelines for lodging businesses on January 31st. The new guidelines clearly state it is a violation of the guidelines when hotels deny service to people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. It has always been a violation of the laws, but in reality, it has been quite common in Japan. This time, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare aims to inform all the municipalities of this problem again.

The new guidelines, issued by Japanese government and sent to all the municipalities, stipulate that lodging business owners must obey the laws regarding equipment and construction. Local municipalities refer to the guidelines when deciding to issue a business license to lodging businesses or not. The new guidelines have been sent to all the municipalities and are going to take effect from June 15th, 2018.

Inns and Hotels Act stipulates that lodging business owners must not deny service to people unless they are members of yakuza or those who do illegal gambling. LGBT people are not necessarily either of them, so it is clearly illegal for lodging business owners to deny service to people just because they are LGBT. 

However, many same-sex couples have been denied service in japan. For instance, when a transgender hotel in City of Osaka tried to deny service to same-sex couples in 2016. Administrative guidance was given to the hotel.

In 2015, Taiga Ishikawa, a ward councilor of Toshima, pointed out the fact that 30 lodging businesses out of 143 in Toshima Ward illegally denied service to same-sex couples. After the accusation, administrative guidance was given to them. In the same year, it was found that 2 lodging businesses in Suginami Ward had denied same-sex couples service and administrative guidance was also given to them.

In 2016, the public health center of Osaka gave administrative guidance to a motel, which had denied service to a gay couple.

In 2017, a gay couple living in Toshima Ward was denied service by a motel in Toshima Ward. In response to that, Toshima Ward gave administrative guidance to the motel. The incident highlighted the fact that Toshima Ward had not given effective administrative guidance in 2015.

“Some people say same-sex couples confuse others or discrimination against them can be justified if their presence bothers someone else, but these kinds of opinions are based on the idea that the minority is bothering the majority. It is a violation of human rights based on discrimination and prejudice. Unfortunately, not many people agree to this in Japan,” said Lawyer Harashima.

“It took a long time, but finally we have come far enough to make the government take action,” said Taiga Ishikawa.