The storm over lawmaker Mio Sugita’s anti-gay magazine article showed no signs of dying down on Aug. 5, as protesters staged demonstrations across the country, denouncing her remarks and demanding an apology and her resignation.
At a rally in front of Shibuya Station in Tokyo, protesters took turns speaking through a microphone to a gathered crowd and passers-by about the seriousness of the issue.
“I will not let others decide how I should live,” said one protester. “The issue is relevant to all people because it is about human rights and discrimination,” said another.
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party announced on its website on Aug. 2 that it had issued an “instruction” to Sugita, a Lower House member, to become more understanding of sexual diversity following a public outcry after her article was published last month.
Referring to gay couples, Sugita wrote in the monthly magazine Shincho 45, “Those men and women do not reproduce. In other words, they are ‘unproductive.’ I wonder if it is appropriate to spend taxpayer money on them.”
Sugita has not apologized for her homophobic views. She issued a statement that said she will “endeavor” to improve her understanding of the issues.
Miho Takeuchi, a freelance writer from Tokyo who came to the rally to hear what others had to say, raised the question about Sugita’s integrity as an individual.
“Her comments showed that she lacks the makings of an ordinary person, not to mention of a Diet member,” said Takeuchi, 57. “Despite that, she has yet to apologize. We should start by demanding her apology.”
Similar protest rallies were held in Osaka and elsewhere.