A Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker drew a fierce backlash in July after calling lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people “unproductive” in terms of childbirth in a magazine article, among other comments. People in the Japanese capital were asked for their thoughts on the position of the LGBT community in Japanese society.
Student, 20 (Japanese)
As for the remark that LGBT people are not productive, I don’t think that’s right. I’ve heard of gay couples around the world adopting children and raising them with affection, and the kids have become great people.
I remember in my high school, two male students came out as gay and they used to eat lunch together after that — they looked very happy. It was very rare and I guess it took a lot of courage for them to come out at that age.
I hope Japan will be a society where coexisting with LGBT people will feel natural — that is, where they don’t feel singled out.
Student, 20 (Italian)
Every person can do whatever they want, although the best thing is never to do things in excess and to just be yourself. LGBT people are the same as everyone else. Not productive? I don’t understand why she said that. They’re just as able as you and me.
Not being able to have children is not a big problem. They can also adopt, which is a good thing because there are so many children growing up in bad environments around the world. For those kids it’s irrelevant whether their parents are heterosexual or homosexual. As they grow, they will learn to accept various points of view.
Japanese language school teacher, 24 (Japanese)
The criticism is out-of-place and wrong.
One of my cousins is gay. In the Philippines, where I worked before, there are lots of openly gay people, and it seems that people around them accept them with open minds.
In school in Japan, I remember that two girls liked each other at junior high school and there was no discrimination. I think that society is gradually becoming more tolerant. Recently, quite a few entertainers who have come out as gay.
In the future, I hope we can become a society where such feelings are accepted.
HR manager (British)
The comment was ridiculous. It has no bearing on your standard as a politician whether you have or don’t have children, for example.
I am equal to a man, so I shouldn’t be treated any differently. Whether you’re female and you choose to have children or not, there should be no difference.
In England and Ireland, same-sex marriage is legal, so it has no impact on our lives. I can work as I please in the U.K. regardless of my sexuality. It has no bearing on the job I perform, so if I choose to have children or not, it makes no difference.
Student, 23 (Japanese)
As an LGBT person, the remarks don’t bother me. I don’t feel I need people to understand LGBT people. At the end of the day, I just want us to be left alone.
While same-sex marriage has been legalized in other countries, only some areas here recognize same-sex couples, and there’s no legislation. It’s like they just want Japan to look like an advanced country.
Leading figures in Japan are scared about the falling birth rate, urging couples to make kids. But without the finances or responsibility, parents will still hand over kids to state care. Japan has more to worry about than just LGBT issues.
Student, 25 (French)
The idea that LGBT people are unproductive is wrong, as they are paying taxes as full, equal members of society for a start. Secondly, there are women who can’t have children too, so what is the message that Sugita is sending out to these women? It’s terrible.
In France, if a person made such remarks, they could be fined or even jailed, so it would be impossible for a public figure to say such things.
I’m a Frenchman so I can’t tell Japan what to do. However, I think it’s important for today’s very open-minded young people to be interested in politics and vote, if they want to change the country.
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