Tokyo Rainbow Pride via Flickr

It is now illegal to out someone’s sexuality or gender identity in the Mie Prefecture.

Eikei Suzuki, the governor of the Mie Prefecture, signed a new ordinance earlier in the week to make it a crime to out someone’s sexuality or gender identity. This means that the region is the first, and only, area in Japan were outing is illegal.

The move came following the way South Korea handled its second wave of coronavirus cases, which may have been spread through the country’s gay bars. The country was criticised in the way it wanted patients to come forward, as it would’ve outed their sexuality in a country that is fairly conservative-minded when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights.

Suzuki confirmed that penalties for outing have not yet been fully discussed. Outing is the malicious act of revealing someone’s sexuality or gender identity when that person is not yet open about it.

The action can have horrific consequences for LGBTQ+ people, with some taking their own lives after getting outed. Speaking to the Tokyo Shimbun, Yuichi Kamiya, the executive director of the LGBT Federation (Tokyo) said: “Outing is a life-threatening harassment. Administrative regulations should be expanded.”

The Mie Prefecture is a region in Southern Japan. The region’s capital is Tsu and it also encompasses other major cities like Kuwana, Matsusaka, Suzuka and Yokkaichi.

The region has also become the fourth to bring in anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination measures, following Tokyo, Osaka and Ibaraki.

And this wasn’t the only piece of good LGBTQ+ news to come out of Japan this week, as Okayama has become the latest city to issue ‘partnership systems.’ Although this stops short of allowing same-sex marriage, it allows same-sex couples certain benefits given to married couples, like moving into public housing as a couple, hospital visitation rights and even certain employment benefits.

The move will come into effect on 1 July, and means Okayama will join nearly 50 other Japanese cities in giving these rights to same-sex couples. However, as these certificates aren’t legally valid in Japan, they carry no rights in areas that haven’t issued them.

Related: Poll finds that one in ten people in Japan identify as LGBTQ+