LGBTQ+ Rights and Protections: Do Existing Theories Explain Japan's Limited Legislation?

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King, Jonathan
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Middle Tennessee State University
Due to the acceptance and prominence of homosexuality in Japanese history, one could assume that Japan would be accepting of homosexuality, as well as the other facets that constitute the umbrella term LGBTQ+, in the present day. However, currently, legislation in favor of the LGBTQ+ community is quite limited in Japan. In order to explain such limited legislation, an examination of theories regarding the creation of minority rights is conducted. These theories include national factors such as regime type, economic status, religiosity, the health of civil society, the rule of law, and how socialization, policy diffusion, and global queering has and continues to have an influence over attitudes and legislation. After observing Japan’s status regarding each of these theories, it is determined that they do not provide an explanation for the limited LGBTQ+ equal legislation. Compared to countries with similar levels as Japan in each of these theories, Japan appears to be much more apathetic towards LGBTQ+ rights and protections. Due to this lack of clarification regarding Japan’s limited equal legislation, I call for the refinement of theories and provide a few potential explanations for Japan’s apathetic stance including, but certainly not limited to, the difficulty of “Coming Out,” the traditional family structure, and heteronormativity in Japan. While these are merely suggestions needing further research to confirm their influence, cultural factors such as these must be considered when theorizing the reasons for the global increase of LGBTQ+ equal legislation creation.
Equal Rights Theories, Japan, LGBTQ+, International relations, LGBTQ studies, Asian studies