Man receives workers' compensation over outing

A man in his 20s has received workers' compensation for developing a mental illness after his boss outed his sexual orientation.

At a news conference on Monday, the man announced his mental disability was recognized in March 2022 as work-related.

A former employee of a Tokyo insurance agency holds a news conference to announce he received workers' compensation for being outed by his boss.

Being outed at work

When the man joined a Tokyo insurance agency in 2019, he registered his same-sex partner as his emergency contact. He asked the company to only share the information when absolutely necessary with a limited number of colleagues.

But one month later, his boss told a part-time colleague about his sexual orientation. "It would be embarrassing for you to say it on your own, so I did it instead. I thought there was no problem telling just one person," his boss told him.

The man was subsequently diagnosed with a mental illness and eventually quit.

The company has since apologized and paid him a settlement.

'A big step forward'

Members of POSSE, a labor NPO, participate in the Monday news conference.

"Although there's a law banning harassment in the workplace, many people are still harmed by outing," said a member of POSSE, a nonprofit organization focusing on labor issues who assisted the man.

"I hope this recognition makes it clear that companies and individuals will be held responsible for outing. We want to change society little by little to create one without discrimination."

"I didn't want to give up on the matter because it would mean that I accept human rights violations," the man said at the news conference. He described the workers' compensation recognition as "a big step forward."

"Some people may be suffering from being outed right now. I don't want them to stay silent as there are people who can help them out."

Ban on outing spreads in Japan

A graduate student of Tokyo's Hitotsubashi University fell to his death from a school building in 2015 after he was outed as gay by a fellow student.

The Tokyo High Court in 2020 dismissed an appeal of a lower court ruling that said the university was not at fault for the death of the student. But it called the outing "unforgivable behavior."

In 2018, the city of Kunitachi, where the university is located, took a pioneering step when it introduced an ordinance that prohibits disclosing people's sexual orientation or gender identity against their will.

More municipalities across Japan have since followed suit to protect the rights of the LGBTQ community, although such ordinances do not carry penalties.