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Japanese man fighting cruel mandatory sterilisation laws

A Japanese trans man is challenging laws that say he must undergo surgical sterilisation before marrying his partner.

Gen Suzuki, 46, has lodged a request for the Shizuoka Family Court to recognise him as legally male.

Despite increasing calls for marriage equality, Japan does not yet recognise same-sex unions.

Suzuki, who is still considered legally female, cannot marry his fiancée without changing his gender with the court, Pink News has reported.

He said that it is “nonsensical that transgender people cannot enjoy marriage equality in Japan” unless they change their family register gender.

Japan currently only permits trans people to change their legal gender if they are aged at least 20 years, unmarried, and have no children aged under 20.

They must also have undergone surgical sterilisation and have genitals that “closely resemble the physical form of an alternative gender”.

The laws have been challenged in court several times. 

Most recently in 2019, the Japanese supreme court unanimously voted to uphold the legal requirement for sterilisation.

In Japan and elsewhere, many trans people either do not want or cannot afford or access transition surgeries.

Laws around LGBTIQ rights in Japan are moving to become more progressive.

Last year, the Mie prefecture criminalised outing LGBTIQ people without their permission.

Earlier this year, a Sapporo district court ruled that the laws against same-sex marriage constitute unconstitutional and unlawful discrimination. 

Such local rulings are likely to continue increasing pressure for national changes towards LGBTIQ equality.

In Australia, New South Wales and Queensland similarly still require trans people to undergo sterilising surgery before changing their legal gender.

Other states and territories have abolished the dated requirement, beginning with South Australia in 2016.

Until marriage equality was passed in late 2017, married trans people were also forced to divorce their partners before they could legally correct their gender.

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