AOC calls out minister’s ‘discriminatory’ statements on LGTBQ+ people during Japan visit

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New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez used a visit to Japan this week to call for the country to legalise same-sex marriage, after a top official in the country’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party was caught earlier this month making hateful remarks about LGBT+ couples during an off-the-record briefing.

"There was a member of the Japanese administration that was caught in off-the-record comments making very discriminatory statements about LGBT people,” Ms Ocasio-Cortez said in a video posted on Instagram.

"Japan is the only member of the G-7 that does not have marriage equality and LGBT anti-discrimination equality protections in place," she added.

"The more we can all share our values across countries, the more we can cooperate," she said elsewhere in the video.

Earlier this month, a secretary in the Liberal Democratic Party was fired for telling reporters he didn’t like to see same-sex couples and wouldn’t want to live nextdoor to them.

Prime minister Fumio Kishida said the comments were “completely contrary to government policy.”

However, Japan, which is set to host the G7 summit in May, still does not allow for full legal equality for LGBT+ people.

In November, a Tokyo court upheld the country’s ban on same-sex marriage, but said a lack of legal protections for same-sex families would violate their human rights.

In Japan, same-sex couples can’t marry, inherit shared assets, or exercise rights to each other’s children, Reuters reports.

Earlier this month, prime minister Kishida said he would be hesitant to support legislation for full gay marriage, despite his party proposing a bill promoting “understanding” of LGBTQ+ couples.

“Because it’s a topic that will change people’s perception of family, values, and society, it’s important to make a decision only after deeply contemplating the mood of the whole of society,” he said in a session in Japan’s Lower House, Asahi Shimbun reports.

A 2021 poll by the paper found 65 per cent of respondents felt same-sex marriages should be allowed.

“The United States and Japan’s shared commitment to the democratic principles of freedom, equality, and diversity must extend to LGBTQ individuals,” delegation member Congressman Mark Takano, the first openly gay person of colour elected to Congress, and co-chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus, told Bloomberg.