Nearly 40% of sexual minorities in Japan have been sexually harassed or assaulted, according to a private survey involving more than 10,000 respondents.
The survey of LGBT people, released Saturday, was conducted by Yasuharu Hidaka, a professor of social epidemiology at Takarazuka University.
Hidaka said many more cases likely go unreported, noting that LGBT people have sometimes been refused help by police or counseling centers. He also said there is a lack of proper support and understanding in the country for issues facing the LGBT community.
Tomoya Asanuma, a 31-year-old nurse, is among the people who have had a bad experience dealing with the police.
About two years ago, Asanuma, a transgender man, was sexually assaulted by a man he had just become acquainted with.
After being refused help by a sexual violence counseling center, he contacted police, but they refused to accept his report.
Asanuma says the police did not expect a person such as himself — who has undergone sex reassignment surgery and changed their registered gender — to come forward.
"I was a victim of sexual assault but was hurt further because police didn't understand my own circumstance as a sexual minority person," Asanuma said.
The online survey, entrusted to Hidaka by Lifenet Insurance Co., was conducted between September and December last year, collecting answers from 10,769 LGBT people.
Among 10 types of incidents deemed to be sexual harassment or assault, 4,106, or 38.1%, replied they have been victims of at least one.
Among them, 22.4% said they have been touched without consent, including on their genitals, breasts or hips. That was the most prevalent answer among the 10 types. A total of 17.3% reported being "harassed by sexual words or deeds" while 11.5% said they had been "forcibly kissed."
Some of the respondents also said they had been raped.
By type of sexual minority, 69, or 57%, of transgender women said they had been sexually assaulted or harassed, followed by lesbians at 338, or 52.2%, and transgender men at 95, or 51.9%, according to the research.
As for the fallout on their mental health, 52.8% of those who said they experienced severe assaults have seen psychiatrists, and 48.9% of those who have suffered from other actions have done so.
A total of 35.5% respondents, including those who have not experienced sexual harassment, have consulted with psychiatrists, the survey showed.
Hidaka said some LGBT people have suffered mentally because of responses by police or counseling staff, who often have little knowledge about issues facing sexual minorities.
"It is necessary (for the government) to improve its support system for sexual minorities and male victims," in addition to women, Hidaka said.
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