Japan Ruling LDP Will Try to Pass LGBTQ Law

A senior executive in Japan’s ruling party said he’ll seek to pass a law promoting understanding of the LGBTQ community before the country hosts the Group of Seven summit in less than a month.  
Toshiaki Endo, who heads the Liberal Democratic Party’s general affairs council, said he’s willing to have the ruling coalition submit a bill without opposition backing if no agreement can be reached. Endo, a lower house lawmaker, was speaking in an interview in Tokyo on Wednesday. 
Japan is alone among the G-7 wealthy democracies in not having laws to ban discrimination against LGBTQ people or give legal recognition to same-sex unions. That’s despite Prime Minister Fumio Kishida last year signing up to the group’s communique, which laid out a commitment to protecting the community from discrimination. 
“As the ruling party, it’s important for us to take responsibility and submit the bill,” Endo said. “Even if the opposition resists it, the LDP and Komeito will put it forward,” he said, referring to the junior coalition party.
The comments from Endo signal a possible shift in the conservative LDP, which has been criticized by one of its prominent members for dragging its feet on the bill. Other G-7 members have pressed Kishida’s government to take steps to protect sexual minorities prior to the summit as a show of unity with other democracies. 
A sticking point is how far the bill goes in addressing unfair practices. Some conservative forces have balked at a clause that says “discrimination will not be tolerated,” which the opposition have sought to include. Endo said he would try to seek consensus by using expressions like “unfair discrimination will not be tolerated.”
While the issue is controversial within the LDP, opinion polls show a majority of the public agrees on the need for the law and is in favor of allowing same-sex marriage. Business lobbies complain that the lack of legal rights for sexual minorities hampers efforts to attract global talent. 
Kishida was forced to fire an aide who made discriminatory remarks about the LGBTQ community earlier this year, prompting the LDP to seek to move ahead with the long-delayed bill promoting understanding of LGBTQ issues. While it doesn’t enable same-sex marriage, the law would potentially allow local governments to devote resources to the matter. 
With only weeks to go before the summit in Kishida’s hometown of Hiroshima, discussions restarted in the LDP this week. 
Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi also pressed the prime minister in a Tuesday meeting to have the ruling coalition submit the bill and pass it ahead of the summit, according to the party’s website. 

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