Japan junior ruling party, US envoy agree LGBT law needed before G7
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The head of the junior coalition partner of Japan's ruling party and the U.S. special envoy on sexual minorities agreed Wednesday it is desirable for the Asian country to enact a law for promoting the understanding of LGBT people before the Group of Seven summit in May in Hiroshima.
Komeito party leader Natsuo Yamaguchi said it is important to raise awareness that "discrimination is intolerable" during his meeting with Jessica Stern, the U.S. special envoy to advance the human rights of sexual minorities, according to a lawmaker who attended the session.
Komeito's partner, the Liberal Democratic Party, is led by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who recently sacked a close aide for making discriminatory remarks against LGBT people.
Stern expressed hopes that Japan, the G-7 chair, can realize a society without discrimination, while U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel, who accompanied Stern, stressed the need to enact the law while the topic remains hot, the lawmaker said.
The government's stance toward LGBT people has drawn public attention in Japan after Masayoshi Arai, who served as one of Kishida's executive secretaries, told reporters last week that he would "not want to live next door" to an LGBT couple and that he does "not even want to look at them."
Japan remains the only G-7 nation that does not legally recognize same-sex marriage or civil unions, as many members of Kishida's conservative LDP have opposed the concept, emphasizing the country's traditional values, such as the role of women in giving birth and raising children.
Yamaguchi's Komeito and some opposition parties are seeking to enact the law for facilitating the understanding of sexual minorities during the ongoing parliamentary session through June 21. Kishida is scheduled to host the G-7 summit in his own constituency for three days through May 21.
The bill was previously aborted, even though the ruling and opposition blocs agreed on a draft bill in May 2021, after the LDP's leadership eventually opposed it over the phrase "discrimination is unacceptable," with conservative members claiming the scope of discrimination is unclear.
Kishida has remained cautious about recognizing same-sex marriage in Japan, telling a parliamentary session last week, "It is a matter that could change people's views on family, sense of values and society."
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