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International News Highlights — Mar. 31, 2023

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LGBTQ activists in Tokyo, holding cards for civil engagement group Pride7 — Photo by Mari Yamaguchi / AP
LGBTQ activists in Tokyo, holding cards for civil engagement group Pride7 — Photo by Mari Yamaguchi / AP

Japan conservatives drag feet on "gender identity" in LGBT rights bill
Members of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) have dug in their heels on a particular clause mentioning "gender identity" in a bill that is meant to promote better understanding of the LGBT community.

LDP lawmakers already had problems with another section of the bill, which officially denounces anti-LGBT discrimination. Their issue with the mention of "gender identity" is the possibility of "social confusion."

"Gender identity should be respected," said Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone, but there had been no discussion on the matter, aside from his mention of an incident in which a male identifying as a woman entered a women's restroom at a golf course.

Another lawmaker added that such discussions "must be done carefully."

Others worried that the bill, in its current wording, might allow people to "decide their genders by themselves."

Meanwhile, both LDP coalition partner Komeito and opposition parties are calling for the legislation to be enacted early. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, also of the LDP, said that his party is "preparing to submit a bill."

Ugandan activist may challenge deadly anti-Gay law in court
The Ugandan parliament's decision to pass a law outlawing the act of identifying as Gay has the East African country's LGBTQ community worrying about mass arrests, harsher prison sentences, and even capital punishment for some charges, all carried out in the name of protecting what lawmakers call traditional values.

The bill has yet to be signed into law by President Yoweri Museveni, but there is little question about whether he will; he has consistently denounced homosexuality in the past.

Frank Mugisha, an activist and openly Gay man living in Uganda, said of the news, "It's a moment of shock for the LGBTQ community."

He added, "LGBTQ persons are going to fear going to health centers for services ... there's going to be a lot of trauma and cases of mental health that will lead to a lot of suicide."

But Mugisha also said he planned to challenge the law in court over its violation of international treaties, and of the country's constitution.

Such a case holds water, according to Kampala-based lawyer Adrian Jjuko: "The law violates fundamental constitutional rights like privacy and free speech, so purely based on the law, I think it will be a strong case."

It wouldn't be the first time such a law was struck down, either. In 2013, anti-Gay legislation prompted cuts to foreign aid and investment, and promptly died in court.