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Tokyo lawmaker says sexual orientation is ‘personal taste,’ does not deserve protection

Tokyo lawmaker says sexual orientation is ‘personal taste,’ does not deserve protection

Yumi Kobayashi is an independent lawmaker in Tokyo's Suginami ward.

A Tokyo lawmaker has said sexual orientation is ‘personal taste’ and  LGBTI people therefore do not deserve recognition from municipal governments.

Yumi Kobayashi, 27, told the Suginami ward assembly on 15 February that LGB people were ‘fundamentally different’ from transgender people – ‘who are clearly disabled and should be legally protected.’

‘”Lesbian,” “gay” and “bisexual” are terms denoting sexual orientation, and it’s not medically clear whether they are disabled or not,’ she said.

‘Is it really necessary for local governments to spend a lot of time and money on issues relating to sexual orientation – or personal taste?’

The independent lawmaker also claimed Shibuya and Setagaya wards’ certification of gay couples might violate the constitution, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

She added that the discrimination faced by LGBTI couples when renting together or visiting their partners in hospital could be ‘independently dealt with.’

Taiga Ishikawa, Japan’s first openly gay male politician and a member of Tokyo’s Toshima municipal assembly, was quick to condemn Kobayashi’s comments.

‘The biggest problem is that she believes gay, lesbian and bisexual people are that way out of personal taste or choice, propagating the idea that they can choose their sexual orientation,’ he told The Japan Times.

‘Her labeling of all transgender people as being disabled is also wrong. Transgender people refer to all of those with gender identity issues, not just those diagnosed with GID [gender identity disorder].’