Web Analytics Made Easy - Statcounter

International News Highlights

Share this Post:
The Plaintiff's lawyers, Kazuyuki Minami and Masafumi Yoshida, hold banners that read "returned" and "unconstitutional" - two main points of the Supreme Court's decision — Photo by Francis Tang / Reuters
The Plaintiff's lawyers, Kazuyuki Minami and Masafumi Yoshida, hold banners that read "returned" and "unconstitutional" - two main points of the Supreme Court's decision — Photo by Francis Tang / Reuters

Japanese court rules that forced sterilizations of Trans people is unconstitutional
Japan's top court has ruled that a government requirement for Transgender people to be sterilized before they could be legally recognized was unconstitutional, in a victory for the country's Queer community years in the making.

Under a law enacted in 2004, Transgender people who want their identity documents amended must have been diagnosed with "gender identity disorder," be at least 18 years old, be unmarried, and not have any underage children. These requirements present a very high hurdle for legal recognition of their gender identity.

They must also have genital organs resembling those of the opposite sex, and have no reproductive capacity. That means they must have undergone invasive procedures, including sterilization and plastic surgery.

The law has long been decried by rights groups, though previous challenges in court have been struck down — until this case, brought by a Transgender woman who wanted to change her legal gender from male to female without surgery.

The plaintiff argued that years of hormone therapy had already impacted her reproductive capabilities, according to public broadcaster NHK.

Her case had been rejected by a family court and a higher court before arriving at the Supreme Court. On Monday, the latter ruled in her favor, declaring that the provision requiring sterilization was "in violation" of the constitution.

According to a statement by the Queer rights group Human Rights Watch, "The case follows years of advocacy and litigation to remove this abusive and retrograde requirement that contradicts medical best practices and international human rights law."

HRW added, "This judgment is a major step toward upholding the rights to health, privacy, and bodily autonomy of trans people in Japan. It will also resonate regionally and globally as governments increasingly recognize that the process for legal recognition of trans people needs to be separate from any medical interventions."

Photo by Ahn Young-joon / AP  

South Korean court upholds military anti-sodomy laws
South Korea's constitutional court has upheld two anti-Queer laws, including the country's notorious military "sodomy law" for the fourth time, in a ruling activists are calling a setback for equal rights.

In response to several petitions challenging the law, the court, in a 5-to-4 vote, ruled that Article 92-6 of the Military Criminal Act — which prescribes a maximum prison term of two years for "anal intercourse" and "any other indecent acts" between military personnel, even while on leave and consensual — is constitutional.

One judge in favor of the law stated that due to a high number of men in the military, opportunities for same-sex sexual relations are frequent, and as such, the law is needed to maintain order and prevent same-sex sexual assault and the breakdown of the military's combat readiness.

Lim Tae-hoon, head of the Center for Military Human Rights Korea, which provides assistance to soldiers, including those accused of breaking the anti-Queer law, said the decision is "absurd, illogical, regressive, and driven by prejudice.

"While the world has been making progress in abolishing discrimination against minorities over the past 20 years, the minds of the judges have not advanced even a single step," he said.

Amnesty International's East Asia researcher, Boram Jang, said it was "a distressing setback in the decades-long struggle for equality in the country.

"This ruling underscores the widespread prejudice experienced by LGBTI people in South Korea and the government's lack of action to prevent harm and ensure equality, which is their human rights responsibility," Jang said. "It has no place in Korean society and should be scrapped immediately."

In 2017, an investigation — decried by rights groups as a "witch-hunt" — was launched to identify servicemen suspected of being Gay, resulting in the indictment of a dozen soldiers. A case in 2021 criminally punished two soldiers for a consensual sexual act. At the time, a court said their actions "bordered on rape."

Thursday's ruling comes despite the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Article 92-6 convictions.

Rainbow Action, an umbrella of LGBTQ rights organizations, said that the court's failure to rule anti-Queer laws unconstitutional meant "it had not fulfilled its responsibility to protect the rights of minorities."

"The fight is far from over," it said.