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Japan’s Supreme Court deems the law mandating transgender sterilization for legal gender change unconstitutional, a pivotal step for transgender rights with broader LGBTQ+ implications.

The Ruling
The Supreme Court’s 15-judge grand bench ruled that the 2003 law requiring the removal of reproductive organs for a state-recognized gender change is unconstitutional. The court stated that the requirement “restricts a person’s free rights not to have their bodies invaded against their will”. This ruling is the first of its kind on the constitutionality of this law.

The Case
The plaintiff filed the case after lower courts rejected her gender change request from male to female. Despite this setback, her persistence led to the groundbreaking Supreme Court decision.

Implications for Transgender Rights
This ruling paves the way for transgender people to have their gender changed in official documents without undergoing surgery. The transgender community in Japan sees it as a significant victory and expects it to bring far-reaching effects on the recognition and protection of transgender rights.

The Road Ahead
Following this ruling, the Japanese government is now required to revise the law. Human Rights Watch has welcomed the decision and urged the government to act quickly to remove the clause.

Insiders View
This landmark ruling by Japan’s Supreme Court marks a significant step forward in recognizing and protecting transgender rights. It highlights the importance of respecting individual autonomy and bodily integrity. As Japan continues to grapple with issues surrounding LGBTQ+ rights, this decision serves as a beacon of progress and hope.


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