• Politics & Government

Japan Diet to Discuss LGBT Bill in Current Session

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, right, answers a question from Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan President Kenta Izumi, bottom left, at a meeting of the House of Representatives Budget Committee on Wednesday.

A bill to promote understanding of sexual minorities has emerged as a pressing issue in the current Diet session. Presently, the ruling and opposition parties agree on the necessity for legislation, but hold different positions on whether to establish antidiscrimination provisions.

Overseas, various forms of legislation prohibit discrimination against people who identify as LGBT. In light of this, Japan’s political parties are keen to accelerate discussions aimed at the submission of a bill.

“I’ve met face-to-face with LGBT people and have been strongly struck by their earnest feelings,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Wednesday at a meeting of the House of Representatives Budget Committee. Underlining his intention to pursue the issue within his party, he added, “The Liberal Democratic Party will continue to work with the LGBT community toward submitting [a bill].”

Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ) President Kenta Izumi was among those present during the committee talks.

The nonpartisan Diet members league on LGBT issues — chaired by LDP lower house member Takeshi Iwaya — aims to pass legislation before the Group of Seven summit meeting in May. With the largest opposition group CDPJ as a member, the league is expected to serve as a forum for substantive discussions between the ruling and opposition parties.

A bill compiled by the league in 2021 contained the phrase “Discrimination will not be tolerated” as part of its objectives and basic principles, but this caused unease among the LDP’s conservative faction. Ultimately, the bill was not submitted to the Diet; the reason cited for this was that a vague definition of “unacceptable discrimination” would confuse society.

The opposition parties, including the CDPJ, have already submitted a bill that clearly states that discrimination is prohibited. The nonpartisan league will try to hammer out suitable expressions on which the ruling and opposition parties can agree, while incorporating the principle of eliminating discrimination.

In many Western countries, discrimination against LGBT people is prohibited by law, but there are few LGBT-specific laws.

G7 members France, Germany and the United Kingdom prohibit prejudice based on sexual orientation as part of their general laws on discrimination.

In Italy, a labor law enacted in 1970 outlaws discrimination — including that based on sexual orientation — but it only applies within the workplace. In 2020, that country’s Chamber of Deputies, the lower house, passed a bill prohibiting LGBT discrimination and penalizing violations, but it was rejected by the Senate the following year.

In the United States — where the federal system gives each state the right to legislate — 21 of the nation’s 50 states prohibit discrimination against LGBT people in some form. States with such laws tend to be dominated by Democrats, while those without such legislation are generally Republican-led. In Congress, a bill banning discrimination, including against LGBT people, was passed by the House of Representatives in 2021, but not by the Senate.

At the United Nations, the Human Rights Council has adopted resolutions on five occasions since 2011 expressing concerns about discrimination based on sexual orientation. There have been a number of objections and abstentions, as well as one “no-vote.” The General Assembly has never passed an LGBT-related resolution, because some U.N. member states prohibit homosexuality for religious reasons.