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Japanese high court rules sterilization after gender change

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Japanese high court rules sterilization after gender change

In a case involving a Japanese transgender man who wants to change his gender listing in documents, the Japanese high court has upheld a law that requires transgender people wanting to change their gender to be sterilized.

The said Law 111 requires applicants to “permanently lack functioning” reproductive parts in order to qualify for gender affirmation.

The same law also requires that those seeking to transition must be single, have no children under 20, and undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

Japanese high court admits law needs to be changed

The 45-year old transgender man, Takakito Usui, had asked the Japanese high court to overturn Law 111. However, the court had ruled the 2003 law as constitutional.

But while it was a unanimous decision by the four-judge panel, the judges said this law was invasive and urged Japanese lawmakers to review it.

Two judges issued an additional opinion pushing society to “embrace the diversity of sexual identity.”

“It is unthinkable in this day and time that the law requires a sex-change operation to change gender,” Usui’s lawyer Tomoyasu Oyama told CNN.

However, Usui was still hopeful, saying in a press conference: “I think the ruling could lead to a next step.”

Japanese high court ruling a missed opportunity

When the law was initially passed in Japan, it was reportedly to prevent “problems” in parent-child relations that could lead to societal “confusion” and prevent “abrupt changes” to society.

Since its passage, about 7,000 people have changed their gender registration under the law according to Justice Ministry statistics cited by public broadcaster NHK.

LGBT groups in Japan and around the world have widely denounced the sterilization requirement of Japan.

Even the UN special rapporteur on human rights had called countries in 2013 to “outlaw forced or coerced sterilization in all circumstances and provide special protection to individuals belonging to marginalized groups.”

“Forcing people to undertake medical treatment in order to obtain legal gender recognition violates their right to the highest attainable standard of health,” Suki Chung, Asia Pacific campaign manager at Amnesty International, told CNN.

Chung added that the ruling “is a missed opportunity to address the discrimination transgender people face.”

A recent survey in Japan by advertising firm Dentsu revealed that more people now openly identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

Moreover, several municipalities in Japan have begun to legally recognize same-sex unions. But the LGBT community in Japan are still demanding marriage equality as Japan does not recognize same-sex marriage.

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