Japanese opposition parties to resume discussions on LGBT rights bill

Japanese opposition parties to resume discussions on LGBT rights bill

The Liberal Democratic Party will likely struggle to agree on a bill that will encourage understanding of LGBT issues, especially if the legislation will refer to discrimination.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who is also a president of the LDP, has a positive stance on the bill after comments made against sexual minorities by a former close aide.

The LDP will hold discussions on the bill soon. The submission to the Diet was postponed two years ago due to opposition from conservative elements within the party.

There is absolutely no opposition to promoting understanding of LGBT issues. We will factor the unacceptability of the aide's comments into our talks, Toshiaki Endo, chairman of the LDP's General Council, said at a press conference after the General Council meeting Tuesday.

At the meeting, Endo said that discussions would be led by Koichi Hagiuda, chairman of the LDP's Policy Research Council.

The resumption of talks comes after Kishida instructed senior LDP officials on Monday to prepare to submit the bill to the Diet.

A former Kishida aide told reporters he would hate seeing same-sex married couples. The LDP and the Kishida Cabinet want to counteract the impression that they are not willing to make efforts to respect diversity by reopening discussions on the bill.

In 2016 the opposition parties submitted a bill to the Diet to the law to eliminate discrimination against LGBT people. The bill prevented administrative organizations from discriminating against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. In 2021, the LDP compiled the outline for a bill that would require the government to formulate a basic plan to promote understanding of LGBT issues.

In subsequent discussions about amendments with a nonpartisan group of lawmakers including opposition party members, a passage was added to its objectives and basic principles saying, Discrimination must not be tolerated. This wording was not approved by the General Council due to opposition from conservative Diet members. The then Hosoda faction — now the Abe faction — claimed that the definition of discrimination was unclear.

There is concern about the use of this term.

Shoji Nishida, a member of the House of Councillors, told reporters he would oppose the bill if its wording was not modified. This is an issue that concerns the innermost feelings of the people. He said that if people are told that discrimination is not allowed, it will split society.

The opposition parties intend to seek stricter content, saying that the LDP is not willing to tackle the issue. The bill to promote understanding of LGBT issues is not satisfactory for the people concerned, said Kenta Izumi, the leader of the largest opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan.

Komeito chief Natsuo Yamaguchi called for the bill to be passed before the Group of Seven summit in Hiroshima in May. The LDP should try to reach an agreement as soon as possible and pass the bill during the Diet session, Yamaguchi said at a press conference Tuesday.