A petition with over 25,000 signators has been submitted to Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), calling for an apology from an MP called LGBTI people ‘unproductive’.
Lower-house LDP lawmaker, Mio Sugita, caused a public outcry over comments she made in a magazine article in July.
In the article, Sugita claimed LGBTI people ‘lacked productivity’ as they could not bear children, and should not receive state welfare support.
When later asked to address these comments in a TV interview, Sugita doubled-down on her remarks. She also said that preventing LGBTI suicide was a ‘low-priority’.
Her comments caused an instant backlash from LGBTI groups, along with elderly and disabled rights campaigners.
In total, 26,650 people signed the petition calling on the LDP to take action, AP reported.
Anger over Sugita’s comments has become increasingly vocal since July.
In August, thousands of people took to the streets to protest Sugita’s comments outside of the LDP’s headquarters in Tokyo.
The LDP were initially slow to respond to the criticisms, though later relented under growing public pressure.
The party eventually released a statement saying that Sugita’s comments ‘show her lack of understanding of (LGBT) issues and consideration for the feelings of people involved.’
Sugita is no stranger to controversy when it comes to LGBTI rights in Japan.
In a talk-show interview in 2015 she said she compared same-sex relationships to incest and bestiality.
‘If we recognize different sexual orientations, that will lead to calls to allow marriage between siblings, marriage between parents and children, or even marriage to pets or machines,’ she said.
Not alone in courting controversy
Sugita is not the only Japanese lawmaker to make headlines for holding outspoken views on LGBTI rights.
In July, fellow LDP lawmaker Tom Tanigawa courted controversy after saying same-sex marriage was ‘like a hobby’.
Appearing on an internet TV show, Tanigawa said: ‘It’s not that I don’t approve of diversity and it’s fine if women like women and men like men. But it’s not necessary to legalize same-sex marriage. It’s like a hobby.’
Japan is considered generally progressive on LGBTI rights, particularly when compared to other Asian countries. However, the LGBTI community does not have full equality.