Japan may not be able to enact a bill to promote citizens’ understanding of LGBT people before the current session of the Diet ends on June 16.
The delay comes as a result of persistent objections from conservative members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, making it unclear whether the LDP will be able to reach a consensus over the bill soon.
LDP executives have no plan to extend the Diet session, as the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election is scheduled for July 4, meaning that there is little time for deliberations on the bill for promoting understanding of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Tomomi Inada, who is the chair of the LDP’s Special Mission Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and is in charge of the bill, aims to submit it to the Diet jointly with Komeito, the LDP’s coalition partner, and opposition parties after having the LDP approve it this week. But the bill needs to be approved unanimously by the LDP’s Policy Research Council and General Council and it is unclear whether that will be possible since both of them include members who are taking a cautious stance on the bill.
Conservative LDP lawmakers have voiced concerns over a wording of the bill that says “discrimination against LGBT people is unacceptable,” which was included following talks with the opposition. Those who oppose the wording worry that opinions based on traditional values may be condemned as discriminatory.
LDP lawmaker Kazuo Yana said during a party meeting last Thursday that members of the LGBT community went against the preservation of the species, while LGBT couples were not “productive” — remarks that drew objections from opposition lawmakers.
Another stumbling block is that conservative LDP members are demanding that the bill be discussed at Diet committees, a process that can be omitted for bills that are submitted jointly by the ruling and opposition sides.
If that is the case, the bill will need to be discussed at Cabinet committee meetings, but those committees will have their hands full until the end of the Diet session with discussions over a bill that would restrict the use of land deemed important for national security.
Short on time for deliberations, the enactment of the LGBT bill during the current Diet session is impossible, Diet affairs officials at the LDP said.
Some LDP members believe that enacting the bill during the current Diet session is unwise, as it would negatively impact the party during campaigning for the House of Representatives election later this year.
“The bill should not be enacted before the election,” a source close to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said. “Or we would lose our core conservative supporters.”
“The bill won’t help us gain more votes. It’s obviously a better idea to ensure votes from conservative supporters,” said a senior LDP member of the House of Councilors.
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