Members of sexual minority groups on Friday demanded an apology from a ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker who claimed in a magazine article that the government should not support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people because they cannot bear offspring and thus are "unproductive."

LGBT representatives and their families submitted about 26,000 signatures to the headquarters of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party in Tokyo, requesting that lawmaker Mio Sugita hold a news conference to apologize.

The signatures were collected online for about a month to demand the LDP remove Sugita, a 51-year-old House of Representatives member, if her attitude does not change and enact a law to ban discrimination against sexual minorities.

Among messages posted on the website where the signatures were collected, one person said, "Ms. Sugita should be responsible for her remark, admit her fault and apologize."

The mother of a transgender fourth grader said in her post, "It is really terrible. Ms. Sugita, what you are doing is bullying."

Titled "Support for LGBT is too much," the article contributed by Sugita to the conservative magazine Shincho 45 on July 18 read: "Can spending taxpayers' money for LGBT couples gain approval? They don't make children. In other words, they lack 'productivity.' "

In early August, the LDP asserted in a statement its views are opposed to those of Sugita. But the party's initial response — apparently tolerating her stance — fueled public anger.

The party's No. 2 figure, Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai, said at a press conference on July 24 that the LDP "is a gathering of wide-ranging people from right to left. Each (LDP politician) has his or her own political position and life philosophy."