Current Affairs

Japanese lawmaker says being gay is a ‘personal taste’

Bobby Rae February 22, 2016
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A Tokyo assemblywoman has drawn criticism from the LGBT community after saying identifying as LGB is a “personal taste” and being trans is a “disability”.

27-year-old, Yumi Kobayashi, who sits on the Suginami Municipal Assembly, made the remarks as a justification for why people from the community are not eligible for government support.

In an assembly session on February 15, she said that people who claim to be lesbian, gay or bisexual are “fundamentally different” from transgender people “who are clearly disabled and should be legally protected.”

In her address, she said: “‘Lesbian,’ ‘gay’ and ‘bisexual’ are terms denoting sexual orientation, and it’s not medically clear whether they are disabled or not.

“Is it really necessary for local governments to spend a lot of time and money on issues relating to sexual orientation or personal taste?”

She has also recently hit out at two of Tokyo’s wards, Shibuya and Setagaya, recognising same-sex unions, which she said could violate the nation’s constitution.

Her comments have drawn criticism from across Japan’s LGBT community, including openly politician, Taiga Ishikawa.

Japanese lawmaker says being gay is a ‘personal taste’

He said her remarks were harmful and misunderstood what it was to identify as LGBT.

“The biggest problem is that she believes gay, lesbian and bisexual people are that way out of personal taste or choice, propagating the idea that they can choose their sexual orientation,” he said.

“Her labeling of all transgender people as being disabled is also wrong. Transgender people refer to all of those with gender identity issues, not just those diagnosed with GID.”

Ms Kobayashi comments contrast with changing public opinion in Japan that has seen people look more favourably at things such as marriage equality.

It also follows Panasonic’s move last week to recognise same-sex unions despite a lack of legal recognition in the country.

More: Asia, Japan, Japan, Taiga Ishikawa, Tokyo, Yumi Kobayashi

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