Japan’s Ministry of Health is ordering hotels to stop discriminating against LGBT guests.
A January 31 directive reinforces existing anti-discrimination laws, reminding hotel owners not to refuse admission “on grounds of their sexual orientation or gender identity and take proper care of them.”
Making same-sex couples sleep in double beds was cited as an example of discriminatory behavior.
The order also affects traditional Japanese inns, called ryokans, and love hotels, where couples looking for a roll in the sheets can rent rooms anonymously by the hour.
Love hotels are popular in major cities throughout Japan, but almost all have an unwritten policy of rejecting male couples. In 2016, a gay couple complained to the Osaka prefecture government that they were turned away from a love hotel.
“At first I felt ashamed,” one of the men told The Asahi Shimbun “Then it occurred to me that we had been discriminated against. A dark feeling overcame me, as if my entire body was painted with black ink.” Asked about the policy, the hotel insisted it didn’t discriminate against gay couples, it just required them to stay in separate rooms.
Similar incidents have been reported in Toyko and other cities.
One love hotel employee told Sora News 24 he rarely gets gay customers, “because word had gotten around that we refused service to them. As far as I know, almost all of the love hotels I worked at didn’t allow male couples.”
The revised guidelines, listed under hygiene regulations, go in effect in June and state that the only acceptable reasons to reject a guest is if they appear to be carrying a contagious disease or intend to engage in gambling or other illegal activities.
While Japan has made progress in LGBT rights, only certain prefectures recognizing same-sex unions. In November, Foreign Minister Taro Kono indicated that same-sex couples would not be invited to functions at the imperial palace.