Japanese LGBT people worried about privacy and security during COVID-19 crisis

In Japan, health authorities have started tracing contacts of corona patients to identify the source of infection and to prevent the virus from spreading. A study finds that Japanese LGBT+ people are now concerned that this will expose their sexual orientation and/or gender identity against their will.
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Japan Times reports that a survey by LGBT+ rights organization Marriage for All Japan reveals numerous concerns within the Japanese LGBT+ community. Current policies allow governors to ask questions about a patient and even permit an investigation into a person's contacts and visited places. This could lead to the inadvertent outing of an LGBT+ patient through the people they met or the bars and clubs they visited.

About 180 lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people participated in the survey. Respondents also expressed concern about whether they or their partner could receive important medical information that hospitals provide to family members if one of them becomes infected with the virus.

For example, one of the respondents, a 34-year-old man who lives with his partner, said that he was not "out" at work. In the survey, he expressed concern that his sexual orientation may be revealed if he becomes infected with the virus. This is because he then has to tell a public health centre about his partner. But respondents who are open about their identity are also afraid of being excluded from important decision-making processes in the medical treatment of a partner with COVID-19.

Minorities who are often left out under regular conditions suffer even more in times of crisis. Gon Matsunaka, head of a non-profit organization supporting LGBT people, emphasizes this. Therefore, Matsunaka urges the government to support these vulnerable groups: “We understand that the government’s top priority is protecting the lives of the people, but we want it to take a look at LGBT and other people who have serious problems regarding privacy and take measures so that they don’t fall through the safety net,”

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