Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the country’s ban on same-sex marriage is not discriminatory, as constitutional freedom of marriage only envisions heterosexual unions.
Asked by an opposition lawmaker at Tuesday’s parliamentary budget committee meeting if he thinks a same-sex marriage ban constitutes discrimination, Kishida said: “I don’t think disallowing same-sex couples to marry is unjust discrimination by the state.”
His comment sparked criticism from opposition lawmakers and LGBTQ rights advocates, who questioned whether Kishida was backpedaling to show consideration to members of his party who oppose sexual diversity.
After meeting with LGBTQ representatives last month, Kishida said that he “strongly felt the need for discussion,” adding that he would consider the voices of the people and in parliament, as well as rulings in several ongoing lawsuits and measures in local municipalities.
Kishida yesterday repeated his position that a same-sex marriage ban “is not unconstitutional” and denied that he is prejudiced.
“I believe I do not have a sense of discrimination” on the issue, he said.
“I have never stated I’m against it,” he added.
Japanese lawmaker Toru Miyamoto of the Japanese Communist Party asked Kishida about his meeting with LGBTQ representatives.
Miyamoto also noted recent media surveys and local government initiatives introducing nonbinding same-sex partnerships, and told Kishida that support for same-sex marriage represents the majority of public opinion.
Kishida has appointed a special aide for LGBTQ issues and instructed his party to prepare legislation to promote understanding for LGBTQ rights.
Rights advocates are urging the Japanese government to enact anti-discrimination legislation before the country hosts a G7 summit in Hiroshima in May.
Japan is the only G7 member that has not recognized same-sex marriage or enacted an anti-discrimination law for LGBTQ people.
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