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Discriminatory remarks made at Japan ruling party meeting on LGBT awareness bill

Tomomi Inada, center, head of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) committee to study sexual orientation and gender identity, is seen speaking at a meeting to review a bill to promote public understanding of LGBT issues at LDP headquarters in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on May 20, 2021. (Mainichi/Miyuki Fujisawa)

TOKYO -- Criticism is mounting over discriminatory remarks made by Diet lawmakers, including that "LGBT people are morally unacceptable," during and after a recent meeting by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to review a bill promoting understanding of LGBT issues.

    A petition demanding LDP legislators withdraw their remarks and apologize was also launched; it had gathered over 10,000 signatures by the morning of May 21.

    On the morning of May 20, a meeting was held at the LDP headquarters in Tokyo's Nagatacho district to review a bill specifying policy measures for improving public understanding of LGBT issues. Former Defense Minister Tomomi Inada and opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker Chinami Nishimura, working members of a nonpartisan parliamentary group, have held discussions over the bill.

    The text of the bill is based on the LDP's proposed draft, which added the passage "discrimination must not be tolerated" in its "objectives" and "basic principles" after a request from opposition parties. A draft was compiled May 14, and the parliamentary group aims to have the bill enacted in the current Diet session.

    But when it was reviewed at the May 20 LDP meeting, a two-hour debate ensued, with views against its proposed content raised continuously. Consequently, approval was called off for the time being, and a decision made to hold a meeting on it again the following week.

    In the afternoon of the same day, a TBS news program reported on the meeting and aired some remarks made by participants, including, "LGBT people are morally unacceptable," and, "From a biological perspective, human beings must preserve the species; LGBT people go against this."

    Criticism exploded on social media, with posts reading: "So this really discriminatory political party is Japan's ruling party" and, "The LDP itself is morally unacceptable." Related terms began trending on Twitter in Japan from the night of the same day.

    Diet members attend a Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) meeting to review a bill to promote public understanding of LGBT issues at the LDP headquarters in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on May 20, 2021. (Mainichi/Miyuki Fujisawa)

    The Mainichi Shimbun also confirmed that lawmakers attending the LDP meeting made remarks to the effect that LGBT people are not desirable in light of species preservation. An LDP member who approves of the bill said, "The discussion was full of extremely emotional opposing views which were unbearable to listen to."

    Furthermore, House of Councillors member Eriko Yamatani, who opposes the bill, told reporters after the meeting: "In the United States, school bathroom use issues have been brought up at various PTAs, and there are also issues of individuals with male bodies participating in female competitions, because they say they identify mentally as women, and ending up getting lots of medals. Given these absurdities, we should be a bit more careful. Were it to grow into a social or political movement, wouldn't there be various side effects?"

    She added, "I'd like to make a bill to promote understanding that can serve as a model to the world, based on Japan's national character." She also said that "discussion is necessary." This remark appears to have been made in reference to transgender women in Japan registered male at birth, but who identify as women. It has also invited a flood of criticism.

    (Japanese original by Miyuki Fujisawa, Digital News Center)

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