Some people who attempted to get help from the police or sexual violence centres were turned away.
A new survey has found that nearly 40% of LGBTQ+ people in Japan have been either sexually harassed or assaulted.
The results of the survey were released on Saturday (26 December) by Yasuharu Hidaka, a professor of social epidemiology at the Takarazuka University.
The survey of 10,769 people was conducted last year between September and December by Lifenet Insurance Co. Out of the ten examples which were deemed to be sexual harassment or assault in the survey, 4,106 people said they had been a victim of one.
The most common form of harassment was the touching of a person’s genitals, with 22.4% reporting it. Other commonly experienced forms of harassment or assault included being “harassed by sexual words or deeds” or getting forcibly kissed, with 17.3% and 11.5% of respondents saying this had happened to them respectively.
More than half of the trans women (57%), lesbians (52.2%) and trans men (51.9%) who were asked in the survey said they had been raped.
Yasuharu Hidaka believes that some LGBTQ+ people refuse to come forward following bad experiences with the police or other counseling centres.
He called for a better understanding of the LGBTQ+ community from these groups, saying: “It is necessary (for the government) to improve its support system that is designed to help sexual minorities and male victims, not only women.”
In one instance, a 31-year-old trans man, Tomoya Asanuma, was sexually assaulted by a man they had recently become acquainted with.
Asanuma attempted to contact a sexual violence counseling centre, but was turned away, and when they went to the police to file a report, the police said they didn’t expect someone like Asanuma to come forward.
Speaking about the experience, Asanuma said: “I was a victim of sexual assault but was hurt further because police didn’t understand my own circumstance as a sexual minority.”
Although in some places Japan is improving in LGBTQ+ rights, with more regions in the country moving to legally recongise same-sex couples, socially the country still lags behind.
In another survey, which was released last month, it was revealed that a quarter of LGBTQ+ people in the country had been outed, with trans men being the most common at 53.6%.
Professor Hidaka described the negative impact these outings, saying they present “fear of those who are not out about their lives crumbling, with the worst case scenario leading to their deaths.” This personal fear is made worse by the use of discriminatory and homophobic behaviours they witness, leading to concern of how LGBTQ+ individuals will be accepted by those around them.
On a positive note, the survey also found that majority of respondents thought society is much more “respectful” to the community now than it was five years ago.