Japan’s ruling party has been condemned by LGBTQ+ activists for failing to approve a bill that protects the rights of LGBTQ+ people.
The country’s conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) – which has been in power continuously since it came to fruition in 1955 (bar a few years) – refused to champion a bill by minority parties called the Equality Act, with some MP’s stating the rights of sexual minorities have “gone too far”.
Although the bill states that discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community “must not be tolerated”, there were a few homophobic remarks in the meeting. Kazuo Yana from the LDP reportedly said that same-sex relationships “resist the preservation of the species, which should happen biologically”.
According to Jiji Press, LDP member Eriko Yamatani hit out at transgender athletes in the closed-door meeting.
She reportedly said, “Some people have stated an opinion that they have a male body but they are women. Therefore, they should be allowed to use the women’s restroom.” Yamatani, who is a staunch opposer of abortion and same-sex education in schools, continued: “Or they participate in women’s sports and win medals. A number of ridiculous things are happening.”
Japanese media and Broadcaster TBS also quoted an unnamed lawmaker as saying the LGBTQ+ community “can’t be accepted in a moral way”.
A decision on a rival LDP proposal that calls for the government to “promote understanding” of LGBTQ+ people was also postponed, according to Japanese media accounts of the meetings.
Pride House Tokyo, an organisation aiming to raise awareness of LGBTQ+ issues through sporting events, criticised the remarks made in the meeting in a joint statement with US-based campaign group Athlete Ally, saying they were in “violation of the spirit of the Olympics and Paralympics”.
Pride House Tokyo opened on 11 October last year to coincide with National Coming Out Day. It made history as Japan’s first ever LGBTQ+ centre and was a gigantic first leap in creating a progressive queer space ahead of the postponed Olympic Games this year.
It acts as a refuge and information centre for LGBTQ+ people in the build-up to and during sporting events.
The director of Pride House Tokyo, Gon Matsunaka, said: “How can athletes truly feel safe playing in a country where a member of the ruling party makes such discriminatory remarks?”
Human Rights Watch also accused the LDP of “ugly rhetoric” towards the LGBTQ+ community and noted the Olympic charter and how it states that “every individual must have the possibility of practising sport, without discrimination of any kind”.
“Japanese officials insulting LGBT people is not new, but it is increasingly out of touch with Japanese public opinion and the government’s place on the world stage,” they said in a statement, before pressuring MP’s to pass the Equality Act before the Tokyo Games commences on 23 July.
Together with @PrideHouseTokyo, Athlete Ally condemns recent anti-LGBT comments made by Japanese members of parliament. This speaks to the need for LGBT people everywhere to be protected from discrimination under the law, and why we need @EqualityJapan. https://t.co/J4rW2zzrn2
— Athlete Ally (@AthleteAlly) May 21, 2021
(Eng) Joint protest against discriminatory remarks against LGBTQ and other sexual minorities by members of the Liberal Democratic Partyhttps://t.co/QBr2t40Hkx?
— Pride House Tokyo（プライドハウス東京） (@PrideHouseTokyo) May 22, 2021
In April, Japan's ruling party said it would pass an LGBT law during the current Diet session. But their bill fails to mention ANY nondiscrimination protections. We need #EqualityActJapan. https://t.co/GjKtBdRrYY pic.twitter.com/tRnYcZKo6l
— GLAD (@GLADLaw) May 13, 2021