“A accused non-consensual transsexual surgery requirement as a

“A world in which everyone is able to be themselves,
irrespective of who they are and who they love”, stated by Koenders, 2016, in
his Human Rights Report of Netherlands, to outline the spearhead of
Netherlands’ policies and vision. According to Article 2 of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights published by the UN General Assembly in 1948,
everyone is supposed to enjoy all the rights covered in the UDHR without any
discrimination of any kind, including sex. Recognition and protection of rights
of LGBT community, in other words Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender, which
in certain context Queer and Intersex are added to the term (LGBTQI), has been
a global concern over the past century, marked by one of the earliest protests
against discrimination implied by Netherlands’ 1911 Section 248 bis legitimate
(Bussemaker, 2013). Since the success of the protest for abolishment of that
bill in 1971, LGBT community and human rights activists, as well as
organizations have been fighting for fairness and justice for the minority. The
rights of Transgender people to be recognized of the gender that they themselves
identified, is also embraced in various international statements. 2013 UN
Special Rapporteur, reported by Human Rights Watch in 2016, urged countries
which coerced sterilization surgeries on transgender people as a requirement to
be recognized as the preferred sex to abolish the act and protect them from any
form of marginalization. Similarly, the third principle of the “Yogyakarta
Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law” related
to “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” (Human Rights Watch,
2016) declared that being able to define gender identity based on their
preference is the most basic form of autonomy, and that a legal recognition of
gender identity shall never be forced through involuntary hormonal and surgical
treatment or sterilization method. The 2013 Office of High Commissioner for
Human Rights (OHCHR) accused non-consensual transsexual surgery requirement as
a must for transgender is “medically worthless”, violated the person’s bodily
integrity and self-determination (Mendez, 2013). Furthermore, the 2015 OHCHR
strongly recommended the member states to legitimate transgender people’s
self-determined gender identity, without any abusive requirements, including involuntary
sterilization or surgery. The OHCHR report also condemned abusive precondition
imposed for gender recognition, such as relationship status restriction and
forced sterilization imposed by some member states as a violation of
internationally established human rights.      


In Netherlands’ Human Rights Report in 2015, Netherlands
prided itself on playing the forefront international role in United Nations
regarding LGBT issues (Koenders, 2016). Historically, Koenders, Minister of
Foreign Affairs of Netherlands also claimed the country’s various efforts in
promoting the rights of LGBT community, including raising the issue during LGBT
Core Groups in United Nations, calling out for other countries to protect their
rights, as well as providing generous financial support (2016). In the “Dutch
Gender and LGBT-equality policy 2013-2016” letter sent to the Dutch parliament
in 2013, Minister of Education, Culture and Science Dr Bussemaker had outlined
Netherlands’ policy headlines regarding official rights of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual
and Transgender community in her country. Netherlands made every effort to
create a diverse society, in which citizens were enabled to pursue their own
lives despite their sexual identity (Bussemaker, 2013). She continued to
emphasize it was the government duty to support vulnerable, minor people, and
only a tolerant and safe society could foster every brilliant individual to
develop (Bussemaker, 2013). Determined to create a safe society where everyone
is safe and appreciated, Netherlands Minister of Education, Culture and Science
considered the task of combating the discrimination and violence against any
groups as a “spearhead” (pg. 18) for the country (Busse, 2013). Netherlands was
the first country to legalized gender-neutral partnership in 1998 and same-sex
marriage in 2001, first LGBT organization namely COC, Amsterdam Gay Pride
Campaigns, frontrunner Rainbow cities, Gay-Straight Alliance (GSAs) and pink
network (Bussemaker, 2013). LGBT issues was also incorporated into Dutch
curriculum in Dutch primary and secondary education (Bussemaker, 2013). Based
on core values and vision stated in the “Dutch Gender and LGBT-equality policy
2013-2016” put forward by Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Dutch
government had taken a milestone regarding the issue of transgender identity in
2013. According to Human Rights Watch, Dutch government has lifted the surgery
requirement to alter official gender for the transgender (Human Rights Watch,
2013). Different from its previous form in article 28 of the 1985 Netherlands
law, the revised one allows transgender people to change their gender section
in official papers according to their preference (Human Rights Watch, 2013).
Under the new law, the Human Rights Watch (2013) proposed, transgender now are
enabled to change their registered gender without hormonal and surgical
intervention, including the sterilization. This act of Dutch government was
motivated by its endorsed claims to protect transgender rights of “personal
autonomy and physical integrity”, as well as pressure from the Humans Right
Watch (Human Rights Watch, 2013). Dittrich (2013), an assistant director at a
program advocating LGBT rights praised the revision of article 28 by saying
that it helps the transgender people, without being bound to scathing medical
requirements (Human Rights Watch, 2013).

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Despite the scarcity of loud protest or discrimination
against LGBT community in Japan, the lack of any specific legislation
protecting the rights, the invisibility, as well as massive irrelevant
assumptions of the community shaped the current inferior position of LGBT
(Human Rights Watch, 2016). Japan has no legal laws condemning discrimination
against lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) in its history, nor any
legislation recognizing same-sex marriage (Doi, 2017). Human Rights Watch
organization (2016) stated in its 85-page report “The Nail That Sticks Out Gets
Hammered Down” that Japanese students suffered severely from discrimination
against their sexual orientation. However, as the article showed, recently more
attention and discussion surrounding this issue emerged, and positively some
municipalities have stepped forward and declared recognition of same-sex
marriage in 2015. From 2012, some remarkable shifts in national policies, with
proposal bills ranging from non-discrimination to only sympathizing with the
community, as the article later pointed out. Nonetheless, if the new
legislation is successfully enacted, it would be the first legal law concerning
LGBT rights in Japan (Human Rights Watch, 2017). Additionally, regarding
educational issue, Japan has finally taken actions to tackle school bullying
against gender identity and sexual preference (Human Rights Watch, 2017). In
particular, Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and
Technology had sent out instructions directing teachers to handle transgender
students in 2015, and one year later they published the “Guidebook for Teachers
Regarding Careful Response to Students related to Gender Identity Disorder as
well as Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” (Human Rights Watch, 2017). The
issue aimed to cultivate understanding and prevent discrimination, define the
confusing terms in Japanese society, and suggest the inclusion of sexual
orientation and gender identity into official Japanese curriculum (Human Rights
Watch, 2017). Despite recent advancement from the past, Japan still faces
pressure and criticism from other countries for persisting the article 111
legitimized in 2003. According to the article no.111 of “Act on Special
Cases in handling Gender Status for Persons with Gender Identity Disorder”
(GID) in July, 2003, the term “person with gender identity disorder” refers a
person “whose biological gender is evident,…who holds a persistent conviction
under which they psychologically identify themselves as being of the opposite
gender” (“Act on Special Cases in Handling Gender Status for Persons with Gender
Identity Disorder”, 2003). To be perceived as person with gender identity
disorder, according to the article, they have to receive diagnosis from more
than two knowledgeable and skilled physicians. The rulings of changes in
recognition of gender status requires complex procedures. A court will make a
change in recognition of the gender status of a person if and only if they
sufficiently satisfy the following requests: 1, is over 20 years old; 2, is not
married; 3, currently had no child; 4, has no reproductive glands or their
glands have been unable to function; 4, has body parts that resembles the
genital organs of the opposite sex; and 4, that person has medical certificate
approved by Ordinance of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare in their
country (“Act on Special Cases in Handling Gender Status for Persons with
Gender Identity Disorder”, 2003). The 111 Law was deemed discriminatory,
by asking the transgender to acquire gonads that lose functionality (Doi &
Knight, 2017). In other words, Law 111 forced transgender to undergo
sterilization before being considered to change their official gender (Doi
& Knight, 2017). Despite being condemned by organizations such as the Human
Rights Watch, Japan Ministry of Health in response to a UN letter of health and
torture about Law 111, defended themselves on saying their requirement was just
to assure “Objectivity and certainty” of whether the applicant is transgender
or not, and whether they deserves the final legal recognition of the state (Doi
& Knight, 2017). In addition to that, in 2017, the Japanese Ministry of Health,
Labor and Welfare proposed to the panel that sex reassignment surgery cost should
be covered by public health insurance, meaning transgender, or Gender Identity
Disorder diagnosed people in Japan can now undergo what used to be a costly
medical surgery with 70% reduction (Kyodo, 2017). In summary, since 2004, Japanese
GID diagnosed people are made capable of changing their official gender with
government-covered medical reassignment requirement, reducing the cost of the
procedure, at the same time make sure of the certainty of every decision made
about changing a gender.

Human Rights Watch (the complainant) has submitted a letter
to the Japan Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and
Japan Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, to provide evidence proving the
violations of internationally recognized human rights implied by Japan Law
No.111 (Human Rights Watch, 2016). The letter urged Japan Ministries to revise
and replace the Law No.111 for the sake of the alleged victims, who are
Japanese transgender persons.

Human Rights Watch

Criticizing the Law No.111 Compulsory Psychic Confirmation,
by exclaiming such lengthy, repetitive and abusive procedure could traumatize
the transgender persons (Human Rights Watch, 2016),

Condemning Law No.111 Forced Sterilization and Imposed
Surgery, stated by Human Rights Watch organization in 2016, by illustrating the
painful battle between exploiting the right to be recognized as a human and
their right to bodily integrity, alongside with indescribable pressure on the
transgender people who are unwilling to change their body anatomy. Human Rights
Watch added proclaiming that the policy which coerces the persons into
unwilling medical surgery in order to be recognized violates their right to body
autonomy, health and exclusion from torture, which are the fundamental human

Dismissing Law No.111 Minimum Age Requirement, by clarifying
the lack of legitimate recognition of gender-neutral children, violating
children’s right of choosing their education according to their gender
identity, as well as forcing medical treatment on them since their young age
(Human Rights Watch, 2016). On the top of that, according to the letter, the
privilege of early gender identification empowers children, especially in a
deeply gender role-ingrained Japanese education environment where bullies are
based on differences,

Undermining Law No.111 Constraint on Relationship Status, by
explaining how the law implies violation of established human rights of
pursuing a family life (Human Rights Watch, 2016),

Subsequently, the Human Rights Watch

Urging the separation the GID diagnosis with the hormonal
and surgical requirement, resulting in a revision or replacement of legal
recognition of gender-non conforming persons, in the light of internationally
established human rights and practice, based on individual gender identification.
Human Rights Watch also calls for the abolishment of minimum age requirement
and marriage restriction (Human Rights Watch, 2016),

Calling for the Japanese government collaboration with
experts and specialists in the field of health care, in particular “Special
Rapporteur on the Right to the Highest Attainable Standard of Health and the
World Professional Association of Transgender Health” to appropriately
rewrite the law (Human Rights Watch, 2016),

Requesting the cooperation of Ministry of Education to
instantly issue guidelines to school faculty and teachers to respect self-based
gender identity of children with no GID diagnosis imposition. Parental
guidelines are also emphasized to help parents appreciate their children’s
gender identity (Human Rights Watch, 2016).


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