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Gay man outed by boss against his will shunned by colleagues and left needing medical treatment

Emma Powys Maurice
·2-min read

A Japanese man has reached a rare out-of-court settlement after he was outed by his former boss as gay against his will.

The man, who is in his 20s, disclosed his sexuality when he joined the company in Tokyo’s Toshima Ward last year. Anti-LGBT+ stigmas still run strong in Japan, and he stated that he wanted to wait until he felt ready before telling his team.

A few months later a female colleague started avoiding him and later quit. The man discovered at a party that she had learned from the superior that he was gay.

“I thought there was no problem telling that to just one person,” the superior told him while laughing, according to Japan Times.

His mental health suffered after the incident and he eventually took a leave of absence. He decided to take legal action in June, around the time several regions in Japan started banning outing LGBT+ people without their permission.

After negotiations the company eventually admitted to the outing and apologised to the man in late October. It also recognised responsibility for causing the man’s mental illness.

“We will take the matter seriously and make efforts to ensure a similar problem will never happen again,” the company said, confirming the settlement.

Around 25 per cent of queer people in Japan have been outed against their will, a recent survey found. The scale of the problem came to the fore amid the coronavirus pandemic as many LGBT+ people feared exposure through contact tracing.

The central government has now designated outing and insults against LGBT+ people as abuses of power, and a new law enacted in June requires firms to take measures against such abuse.

“Society and our workplaces simply do not understand how outing is painful and harsh for us,” said the man involved in the Toshima Ward case.

He continues to seek medical treatment and now plans to file a workers’ compensation claim.