Minato Ward in Tokyo plans to revise its gender equality ordinance to guarantee the right of LGBT people to express themselves through their personal appearance.
According to sources, the ward’s plan would mean changing, among other regulations, school uniform rules that require boys to wear pants and girls skirts so that students can choose the type of clothing they wear.
The ward plans to submit a draft of the amended ordinance to its assembly in February with the aim of putting the new ordinance into effect in April, the sources said.
It would make Minato Ward the first municipality in Japan to adopt an ordinance guaranteeing LGBT people’s right to freedom of self-expression.
The revision is expected to guarantee the right of all Minato residents and all people studying and working in the ward to wear everyday clothes or uniforms that they feel are right for them and to wear makeup, regardless of their gender, the sources said.
The change will also likely include the introduction of a system to recognize LGBT couples as being the same as married heterosexual couples, the sources said. Similar systems are already in place in some other municipalities.
In 2017, Minato Ward adopted a petition requesting the introduction of the recognition system for LGBT couples.
As part of its efforts to create the system, the ward conducted a survey of LGBT people age 18 and over in Tokyo in 2018. Many respondents said they experience discrimination, including being targeted by derogatory comments, regarding their appearance.
By revising the ordinance, the ward hopes to create an environment in which LGBT people can live comfortably, Minato officials said.
“There are many students who struggle with their uniforms, especially when entering junior high school,” one ward official said.