Prime Minister, LDP’s Judgment Being Questioned over Legislation

Will the content of this bill protect the safety of women? Will it not cause confusion in places of education? It is unacceptable to hastily enact legislation while leaving a variety of concerns unresolved.

A bill to promote understanding of gender minorities, also known as the LGBT bill, is expected to pass the House of Representatives on Tuesday. The lower house deliberated on the legislation for less than three hours. It is expected to be enacted on Friday.

The bill was finalized through discussions on revisions among the Liberal Democratic Party, its coalition partner Komeito, Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party) and the Democratic Party for the People (DPFP).

The initial draft bill by the ruling parties stipulated that “there shall be no unjust discrimination on the basis of gender identity” with “gender identity” written in kanji. The expression “gender identity” in kanji was revised to a phonetic transliteration of the term in katakana, as included in an initial draft bill jointly proposed by Nippon Ishin and the DPFP.

The parties said the meaning in kanji and katakana is the same, but it is too difficult to understand from the katakana expression. Isn’t it far from “promoting understanding” while using wording that is difficult to understand?

It is important to create a society that is tolerant of people who feel a difference between the gender of their mind and the gender of their body. However, the Constitution stipulates that “all of the people are equal under the law,” and discrimination is still not permitted. There is no need to enact a new law with ambiguous content specifically designed for LGBT people.

The parties should seriously consider the impact the new law will have.

There have been cases, for example, of men with illicit intent using women’s restrooms by claiming to be women. Such behavior is prohibited under the current law, but the new law could be used as an excuse to claim that the current prohibition is “unjust discrimination.”

Another problem is that the bill states that LGBT education “shall be conducted with the cooperation of families, local residents, and other parties concerned.” Other countries are said to have seen cases in which groups with radical opinions pressured schools to provide sex education that ignores children’s development.

The LDP members who proposed the bill have said it represents a law of principles and does not add any new rights.

However, it cannot be denied that the new legislation might lead to rampant arbitrary interpretations, and trigger a wave of lawsuits over the unconstitutionality of provisions in the Civil Code and other laws concerning gender and marriage.

Many members of the LDP have been cautious about the legislation from the start. Even after the bill was submitted on May 18, it was widely thought that it would not be enacted during the current Diet session and be subject to further deliberation.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is said to have shifted direction toward passage before the end of the current session. This is thought to have been done out of consideration for Komeito, which has strongly backed the legislation.

If this is an attempt to mend the strained relationship with Komeito over the coordination of candidates for the lower house election, it is a serious mistake. The prime minister should be aware that his judgment is being questioned.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 13, 2023)