Tokyo lawmaker says being gay is matter of ‘personal taste,’ does not merit taxpayer support


Staff Writer

A member of the Suginami Municipal Assembly in Tokyo is drawing flak from the LGBT community for saying gay, lesbian and bisexual people refer to themselves so out of “personal taste” and thus are not worthy of support by municipal governments.

Suginami Ward Assemblywoman Yumi Kobayashi, 27, said during an assembly session Feb. 15 that such sexual minorities are “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,” Kobayashi 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?”

Kobayashi is an independent lawmaker who, according to her official website, fights against wasting public money and advocates the restoration of the ward’s fiscal health. Also during the assembly session, she voiced skepticism over recent moves by Tokyo’s Shibuya and Setagaya wards to recognize same-sex unions.

The measures “could be found in violation of Article 24 and 94 of the Constitution,” she said. Article 24 stipulates marriage as an equal partnership between two sexes, while Article 94 declares the right of municipal governments to manage their affairs and enact their own charters within national laws.

She added that the difficulties faced by sexual minorities in Japan, in housing for couples and in securing access to hospitals as family members, can be “independently dealt with.”

She added that Japan is free of fierce opposition to same-sex relationships, noting that various kinds of support are available, such as counselors who offer services for sexual minorities and shrines that marry same-sex couples, as well as hospitals that treat people with gender identity disorder (GID).

Kobayashi’s comment triggered immediate criticism from Taiga Ishikawa, Japan’s first openly gay male politician and a member of the Toshima Municipal Assembly, also in Tokyo.

He said Kobayashi’s statements are riddled with misunderstandings about LGBT people and could foster further discrimination.

“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 said by phone Monday. “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.”

A lesbian blogger who goes by the name of Yu Murata (@fcharu38) expressed shock at Kobayashi’s claim that Japan is more tolerant of gay people than many other countries.

“In Japan it’s so hard to say you are different,” Murata wrote on her blog. “It looks as if there is no discrimination, but LGBT people encounter a lot of difficulties, and there are many things they cannot say, worried how they are perceived by others.”

Calls to Kobayashi’s mobile phone and an email requesting comment were not returned Monday.

  • cc423

    What a horrible, ignorant, nasty woman.She is so filled with hatred and bigotry. She is Japan’s shame!

  • blondein_tokyo

    A lot of people think like her. This ignorance is the very reason that LGBT need the support she is trying so very hard to claim isn’t necessary.

  • Jonathan Fields

    She’s kinda hot, so let’s forgive her.


  • http://www.facebook.com/careersociopath Jean-Luc Turbo

    She has no gay friends, clearly…

  • Toolonggone


    I’m confused. She seems to have multiple affiliations.

  • Christina Tsuchida

    Let me give my own background before commenting: in 1975, I met a fellow student in divinity schl. who said out of the blue that he is “gay.” I was so embarrassed for him making this confession that I tried to go out an a limb to comfort him, and said “maybe I am gay”. More than 40 years later (10 in US, 30 here in Japan), I still get hints of rejecting remarks and touches. I want to write a novel, pace Natsume Soseki, called “I am THE cat”!! I would not have voiced that self-doubt had I not been confident that searching my heart would reveal me as straight. In USA, few were concerned enough to bother with such a search. Many merely rejected with pre-judgement. Some arranged for me to sublet a room from a gay man, who announced at the engagement party for my future husband and me, that “she is not living with a man.” [Future husband did not hear.]
    After marriage and childbirth, we came to Japan. Lately, in my sixties, I am reconciled to my own feelings a bit more, thanks to esp. Japanese humour! Someone pointed out in the West that nothing is more serious and grim-faced than lust. Japan does not so much philosophise as help us laugh at ourselves by proposing we laugh at this or that on the stage.
    That said, I think Yumi KOBAYASHI has a point that is no more hateful than the idea of registering gay or lesbian marriages. It is merely a different way of coping with the issues.
    After all, registration means vulnerability to unpleasant surprises. Were not Japanese residents of the USA found out and carried off to concentration camps during WWII? What is to prevent a real hater of homosexuals from using the wedding lists for a similar pogrom?

  • Lemming

    This could have been titled “Tokyo lawmaker demonstrates why discrimantion laws should exist”

  • Charlie Sommers

    For any human to think that another human could awaken one morning and say, “I have finally made a decision, I shall be sexually attracted to those of my own sex so that I might have a life of battling discrimination and abuse” is incomprehensible to me. People are born either straight or gay just like they are born either blonde or brunette. I have a gay son and I was pretty sure he was gay when he was about six years old. I have spent my life since then trying to insure his happiness. Tokyo, you need to be more careful of the people you elect to public office.

  • king and slave

    She’s right.

  • Akuma

    Who cares about any of this. All I see is another group of people jumping on a chance to be offended.

  • Gokki

    Isn´t she part of the christian asociation ?.. :/..

  • Buck

    Two men having sex doesn`t mean they are gay, right? They can choose to have sex with other men but their sexuality could still be heterosexual, right?!? I mean, nearly everyone here claims human sexuality isn`t a choice and that who you have sex with is a choice but not your sexuality. Correct?

  • Buck

    Well…hmmm…..homosexual behavior is still a choice. Fundamentally, all non-reflexive behavior is essentially a choice. Sexual attraction is either a byproduct of biology or environment or both. Behaviors, however, are chosen. You could be a pedophile and never act on it. You can be gay and never act on it. But, being black, Asian or some other race for example is not like being gay or being straight, in the sense that one cannot choose not to be black, or not be Asian, while one chooses one’s own sexual behavior. Thus, the lawmaker is wrong that being gay is matter of ‘personal taste`, but homosexual behavior, or acting gay, if you will, is still personal taste.

  • R0ninX3ph

    A child is not an adult making an informed decision, it is rightfully illegal, thus acting on that is not legal.

    Homosexuality is not illegal, neither are homosexual acts. Thus, your argument is vacuous.

    Telling one group of people they are not allowed to act on their impulses, but telling another group their impulses are normal, good and fine to act on (when the actions being performed in any case is LEGAL) is the definition of discrimination.

  • Jamie Bakeridge

    Seems quite a mild considered view compared to many U.S. Politicians and the Vatican!!

  • rextrek1

    well hon, the next time Godzilla, earthquake, or Tidalwave strike your country – don’t go asking us for $$$$$$$


    funny how shes from a culture how think women are subordinate yet she dares criticize another minority-on your knees submissive cow!!!!

  • blondein_tokyo

    Well, the definition of pedophila is an *attraction* to pre-pubescent children. Whether they act on it or not, they are still a pedophile.
    But there are people who enjoy sexual contact just for the sake of pleasure. They aren’t actually attracted to the same sex; they only do it for fun, kinda like how dogs will go for it no matter what the other species is, cat, teddy bear, human leg…etc. LOL
    I know people like this, esp in swing community. This includes guys & girls, though admittedly, girls are more open to it than guys. Females tend to be less hindered by societal percecptions, so they don’t feel as anxious about being PERCIEVED as gay.
    Guys don’t want to be seen as gay because they are afraid it will hurt their macho image, so they tend to be quiet about their same-sex sexcapades.