A growing number of Japanese municipalities have introduced ordinances banning the outing, or revealing, of a person's sexual orientation or gender without their consent, researchers and officials said Sunday.

The move highlights that some municipalities have made efforts to protect the human rights of LGBTQ people ahead of the central government, as a law enacted in June to promote understanding of sexual minorities does not explicitly prohibit acts such as outing.

As of Oct. 1, the number of municipalities launching ordinances forbidding outing LGBTQ individuals had increased fivefold over the past three years to 26 across 12 prefectures, including Mie and Saitama, according to the Research Institute of Local Government and municipal officials.

Outing, which constitutes a serious human rights violation, was defined as a form of abuse of power in the guidelines for legislation that came into effect in June 2020 on women's empowerment and harassment regulation.

In July this year, it was disclosed that a man had been deemed eligible for compensation from his employer by a Tokyo labor office last year after his boss revealed he was gay without his consent, but the current law is limited in scope to the workplace.

The harmful consequences of outing hit the national consciousness in 2015, when a graduate student of Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo died after plunging from a school building in an apparent suicide after being outed as homosexual.

In the wake of the incident, the city of Kunitachi, which hosts the university, became the first local government to enforce an ordinance banning the outing of LGBTQ individuals in April 2018.

Mie and Saitama prefectures have prohibited outing on a prefectural level, but none of the ordinances across Japan have legal penalties.