Same-sex marriage ban not discrimination: Japan PM’s remarks spark controversy

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the country’s ban on same-sex marriage is not discriminatory, insisting that the constitutional freedom of marriage only envisages heterosexual unions, a comment that drew criticism, following his recent Despite apologies and meetings with LGBTQ people, there is a backlash.

Kishida’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, known for its conservative family values ​​and reluctance to promote gender equality and sexual diversity, is actually the main opposition to the legalization of same-sex marriage and other measures of equality for LGBTQ people. Is.

Asked by an opposition lawmaker at Tuesday’s parliamentary budget committee whether he thinks the same-sex marriage ban constitutes discrimination, Kishida said, “I don’t think it’s a state to prevent same-sex couples from marrying.” is unjust discrimination by.”

His remarks drew criticism from opposition lawmakers and LGBTQ activists, who questioned whether Kishida was backstabbing ultra-conservatives in his party who oppose sexual diversity.

After meeting with LGBTQ representatives in mid-February, Kishida said he “strongly felt the need for discussion” and would consider the voices of the people and the many ongoing lawsuits and measures in parliament, as well as in local municipalities.

Kishida reiterated his position on Wednesday that a ban on gay marriage “is not unconstitutional” and denied he was prejudiced. He said, ‘I believe that I do not have a sense of discrimination (on the issue)’. “And I never said I was against it.”

Discriminating remarks by former Kishida aide Masayoshi Arai last month about LGBTQ people sparked a nationwide outcry, and a renewed push for the Kishida government to enact anti-discrimination legislation even after the official was fired.

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Arai told reporters in early February that he did not want to live next to LGBTQ people and that citizens would flee Japan if gay marriage was allowed.

Japanese Communist Party lawmaker Toru Miyamoto asked Kishida on Wednesday about his meeting with LGBTQ representatives and whether he really meant his apology. Miyamoto also noted recent media surveys and local government initiatives introducing non-binding same-sex partnerships, and told Kishida that support for same-sex marriage now represented the majority of public opinion.

Since the controversy began, Kishida appointed a special aide for LGBTQ issues and instructed his party to prepare legislation to promote understanding for LGBTQ rights.

Activists are now urging the government to introduce anti-discrimination laws before Japan hosts a summit of the Group of Seven industrialized nations in Hiroshima in May. Japan is the only G-7 member that has not recognized same-sex marriage or enacted anti-discrimination laws for LGBTQ people.

But his own previous comments – that allowing same-sex marriage would change society and family values ​​and should be carefully considered – have also been taken as a sign of his reluctance to promote equal rights for LGBTQ people. was observed, while his pledge to create an inclusive and diverse Society.

Campaigns for equal rights for LGBTQ people have been panned by conservatives, particularly in Kishida’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party. An attempt to enact equality awareness campaign legislation ahead of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics was rebuffed by the party.

While surveys show growing public support for same-sex unions, government efforts to support sexual diversity in Japan have been slow and legal protections for LGBTQ people are still lacking. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people often face discrimination at school, work and home in Japan, leading many to hide their sexual identity.

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