The Japanese Government has ordered hoteliers in the country to stop discriminating against LGBT+ guests.
Under a directive issued at the end of last month, the Ministry of Health reminded hotels that refusing guests because of their sexuality or gender identity would breach anti-discrimination laws.
The order bolsters the existing Hotel Business Law, which forbids Japanese hotels, traditional inns and so-called ‘love hotels’ from turning away same sex couples.
Gay couples have previously been turned away from hotels in the country, despite the practise breaking the law.
In 2016, a same sex couple were turned away from a love hotel – short stay accommodation allowing guests privacy for sexual activities – after they were told by a member of staff that they could not accept male couples.
The 31 year-old man later told the Asahi Shimbun newspaper that the treatment had left him “ashamed” as if his “entire body was painted with black ink”.
The gay couple complained to the Osaka prefecture about his treatment, which “issued guidance” to make sure it did not happen again.
The hotel later said that it had been a mistake to turn away the couple, but that they did operate a policy requiring same sex couples to stay in different rooms.
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Kim Ik-kyon, an academic who has written on love hotels, told the newspaper that “many love hotels shun male couples, thinking that they could cause trouble”.
She added that “they do not see it as discrimination” and that many love hotels have only recently begun to accept same sex couples.
One industry insider, who had over thirty years of experience, told the SoraNews24 site that it was common practise for love hotels to refuse couples if they were not straight.
He said: “As far as I know, almost all of the love hotels I worked at didn’t allow male couples”. However the businesses allegedly did not turn away female same sex couples.
He added: “There were cameras at the entrance to the building and near the elevators, and if we spotted a male couple, we’d go speak with them right away.”
The practise is supposedly wide-spread, as hotel owners fear that gay couples will leave rooms dirtier than heterosexual couples.
The new directive, which is listed under hygiene regulations, is due to go into effect in June.
LGBT couples being refused service from love hotels has also happened elsewhere.
In Hong Kong, a 2008 undercover investigation by the Sunday Morning Post found that four in seven love hotels would not rent rooms to reporters posing as gay couples.