• Kyodo


A member of Mie Prefectural Assembly revealed the names and postal address of a local same-sex couple on his blog without their consent and refused to delete the information, despite the prefecture working toward eliminating discrimination against LGBT individuals, Kyodo News learned Monday.

Takatora Kobayashi, a member of the Liberal Democratic Party, repeatedly refused the couple’s request to delete their address from his blog before finally doing so on Monday afternoon.

“I am deleting because I am causing trouble to people around me, as I heard that the secretariat of the prefectural assembly, the assembly’s chairman and vice chairman are receiving phone calls,” Kobayashi wrote on his blog.

The assemblyman revealed the names and postal address of the couple — Masahiro Shimada, 45, and Katsunori Kano, 41 — after they sent a letter of inquiry to Kobayashi about an LGBT partnership program in the prefecture, following a Twitter post he wrote last month saying, “A local partnership system is a strategy to push the national government into a corner.”

As Japan does not legally recognize same-sex marriages, many municipalities — including the city in the prefecture where the couple live — have started introducing a partnership certificate program so that sexual minority couples can have equivalent rights to married couples.

On April 1, Mie Prefecture implemented an ordinance banning anyone from revealing an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity without consent or good reason, becoming the first among the nation’s 47 prefectures to do so. The prefecture is also set to introduce a partnership certification system for sexual minority couples in September.

Shimada and Kano sent the letter to the assemblyman’s office on March 15 to ask for an explanation about his tweet.

Kobayashi, 47, then posted on his blog on March 30 a photo of an envelope showing the pair’s names and postal address, with a comment saying that demanding an answer by sending an unsolicited letter was “very aggressive and malicious.”

The couple had asked Kobayashi in person to delete their address from his blog and sought an apology, but the assemblyman said they should retract the inquiry in return.

The couple did that, making their decision public via social media, but Kobayashi still refused to comply because he said they had not contacted him in person about the retraction.

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