The Supreme Court unanimously rejected Usui’s case Thursday, ruling the 2003 law constitutional — though judges added it was invasive and encouraged the legislature to review it.
“It is unthinkable in this day and time that the law requires a sex-change operation to change gender,” Usui’s lawyer Tomoyasu Oyama told CNN.
“When the law was established 15 years ago, LGBT people had to make a bitter decision and swallow the conditions to pave a narrow way for official change of gender. With this decision, I hope lawmakers will change the law to support the wishes of the LGBT community.”
The court initially said the law was intended to prevent “problems” in parent-child relations which could lead to societal “confusion,” and avoid “abrupt changes” to society. About 7,000 people have changed their gender registration under the law since it was first passed.
While they ruled against Usui, two judges issued an additional opinion calling on society to “embrace the diversity of sexual identity.”
Suki Chung, Asia Pacific campaign manager at Amnesty International, said the ruling was “a blow for the recognition of transgender people in Japan. It is a missed opportunity to address the discrimination transgender people face.”
“Forcing people to undertake medical treatment in order to obtain legal gender recognition violates their right to the highest attainable standard of health. We urge the Japanese government to end this discriminatory and highly intrusive policy,” she told CNN.
‘Stain on Japan’s record’
“The procedure is discriminatory, requiring applicants to be single and without children under 20, undergo a psychiatric evaluation to receive a diagnosis of ‘Gender Identity Disorder’, and be sterilized,” the report said.
Conservative Japanese lawmaker Mio Sugita, who belongs to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, attracted widespread criticism last year when she published an article saying “Support for LGBTs has gone too far.”
Over 70% of respondents said they supported stronger legal protections for LGBT people.