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LGBTQ+ Activists Urge Japan to Pass Equality Act Before 2021 Olympics

LGBTQ+ protesters in Japan

The Summer Olympics are set to begin July 23 in Tokyo.

According to activists, Japan is missing one crucial thing before it's ready to host the Olympics and Paralympics this year: national legislation that protects LGBTQ+ people from discrimination.

In a joint statement from All Out, Human Rights Watch, Athlete Ally, and the Japan Alliance for LGBT Legislation, the organizations urged the international community to put pressure on Japan's government to pass an Equality Act that includes protections for LGBTQ+ people before the upcoming Summer Olympics, which are scheduled to last from July 23 until August 8 of this year in Tokyo and the surrounding area.

"The Olympic Charter bans 'discrimination of any kind,' including on the grounds of sexual orientation," the statement reads. "And while the Tokyo Metropolitan Government adopted an ordinance that protects LGBT+ people from discrimination in 2018, several Olympic competitions will take place outside of Tokyo."

It continues, "This means, LGBT+ fans, athletes, officials and visitors in these regions will not be protected from discrimination."

Matt Beard, the executive director of All Out, added his own statement. "This year, all eyes will be on Japan," he said. "In these trying times, the Olympic Games will be a welcome and much-needed celebration of humanity in all its beautiful diversity. By granting LGBT+ people protection from discrimination, Japan can prove that it truly supports the Olympic spirit of promoting tolerance and respect."

The organizations are asking supporters to sign a petition urging the leaders of Japan's political parties to introduce and enact legislation to protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination before the Olympics start.

Despite pressure from around the world to cancel the Olympics due to the ongoing pandemic that has yet to slow down in many countries, like the United States and Japan, which saw a surge in cases in December, last Friday Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced that the games would go on this summer as planned.

"I am determined to achieve the games as a proof of human victory against the pandemic, a symbol of global solidarity and to give hope and courage around the world," he said.

The games have been scheduled for this summer after a one-year postponement.

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