On June 25th, it was reported that the surviving family of a law school student who had committed a suicide after being outed by another student reached a settlement. (The date of the settlement is January 15th.)
The law school student aged 25 (Mr. A) threw himself from the university’s building after being exposed as gay by another student(Mr.Z) to a group of 10 peers on messaging app called Line. Mr.A told Mr.Z that he had feelings for Mr.Z in April 2015. At that moment when Mr.A talked about his feelings for Mr.Z, Mr.Z responded “I can’t be your boyfriend, but we can still be good friends.” After that, Mr.A casually asked him to hang out and have a meal together as a friend in order to make the sense of awkwardness between them disappear. However, in June 2015 Mr.Z suddenly exposed Mr.A without consent, saying “I can’t keep to myself this secret that you are gay. Sorry.” After being outed by Mr.Z, Mr.A started to suffer from panic disorder. He consulted with staff working in harassment consultation center in the university, but they did not know anything about SOGI so he was only given a pamphlet on gender identity disorder. He even consulted with his professor, but the professor didn’t take it seriously. In August 2015, he left a message on Line “if someone like Mr.Z can be a lawyer, there is no place left for me in this world.” Right after that, he committed a suicide.
In 2016, the surviving family of Mr.A filed a lawsuit against Mr.Z and Hitotsubashi University. The word “outing” came to be known widely in Japan after the lawsuit.
Mr.A asked Mr.Z only for apology when he consulted with the university.
“Mr. A’s family will suffer from his death for a long time, but they made a decision to reach a settlement with Mr.Z,” said Kazuyuki Minami, Mr.A’s family’s lawyer. The details of the settlement cannot be clarified.
Even though the family reached a settlement with Mr.Z, the lawsuit against Hitotsubashi University will go on. Mr.A’s family said the university failed to handle the matter appropriately and should have properly educated Mr.Z that it was a human right issue.
“This lawsuit has a great significance in that the ruling will have impact on how outing without consent should be handled and how university should handle harassment matters,” said Lawyer Minami.