Athlete Ally and Pride House Tokyo Respond to Anti-LGBT Discrimination in Japan

May 21, 2021 (New York, NY and Tokyo, Japan) — Today, Athlete Ally and Pride House Tokyo responded to news that several members of Japanese parliament made deeply discriminatory remarks about LGBT people during a hearing on the need for LGBT non-discrimination protections under Japanese law. These remarks by members of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which took place at a joint meeting of the First Subcommittee of the Cabinet of the Political Research Commission and the Special Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity held within the Liberal Democratic Party on May 20, 2021, seriously infringe upon the human rights and dignity of LGBT people.

Athlete Ally and Pride House Tokyo regard these comments as disparaging the human rights and dignity of LGBT people, while also promoting misunderstanding, prejudice, and discrimination.

“How can athletes truly feel safe playing in a country where a member of the ruling party makes such discriminatory remarks?,” said Gon Matsunaka, Founder and President of Pride House Tokyo. “I can imagine this is particularly heartbreaking for LGBTQ youth. We need a retraction, an apology, and of course, a law that says NO to discrimination to prevent such statements from being made in the future.”

Athlete Ally has been working in partnership with the Japan Alliance for LGBT Legislation (J-ALL), Human Rights Watch and All Out in support of Equality Act Japan, a campaign for a LGBT non-discrimination law in Japan in advance of the Tokyo Olympics, and has been mobilizing athletes including U.S. tennis icon Billie Jean King, Olympian Christoper Kinney and others to speak out in support of the law as well.

“LGBT people deserve to be safe, welcome and included in all areas of life, including public restrooms, locker rooms and while playing sports,” said Hudson Taylor, Founder and Executive Director of Athlete Ally. “The comments made by members of parliament are not only deeply hurtful to LGBTQ people everywhere and their allies, but also are based in myths and misconceptions. There is absolutely no evidence to show that transgender people have an advantage in sport. Transgender athletes participate in sport for the same reason anyone else does — for the joy it brings them, the invaluable lessons about teamwork and discipline that sport brings, and for the love of the game. There is nothing immoral or unnatural about LGBTQ people being proudly and authentically who they are.”  

Furthermore, these reported comments are contrary to Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter. As host country of the Tokyo 2020 Games, Japan will face significant international criticism for these inappropriate comments. All in all, these comments are also unacceptable to many in Japanese society, including in the LGBTQ community. Pride House Tokyo Legacy strongly condemns them.

We ask for retraction and apology of these remarks, and we sincerely hope that the proposal currently under discussion to eliminate discrimination against LGBTQ people will be realized in a more effective manner.

About Pride House Tokyo: Since 2018, the Pride House Tokyo Consortium has been working to expand understanding of LGBTQ and other sexual minorities in Japan, and to create an environment in which all people can feel safe, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Pride House Tokyo Legacy, a permanent, comprehensive LGBTQ center that opened in Shinjuku on October 11, 2020, is an initiative that resonates with one of the visions of the Tokyo 2020 Games, “Diversity and Harmony,” and is recognized as part of the game’s official program. 

About Athlete Ally: Athlete Ally believes sport will change the world when it welcomes and empowers all people. As a leading national nonprofit working at the intersection of sport and LGBTQI+ equality, Athlete Ally works to end the structural and systemic oppression that isolates, excludes and endangers LGBTQI+ people in sport. We educate individuals and institutions to understand obstacles to inclusion for LGBTQI+ people and how they can build an inclusive culture within their athletic communities. We work to ensure sport governing bodies, teams and leagues adopt policies that reflect the diversity of their constituents. We incubate athlete activism to advance LGBTQI+ equality in and through sport.