TOKYO — A citizens group on July 25 sent the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) 51,503 signatures it collected in protest against a booklet distributed at a gathering attended by LDP legislators which claimed that “homosexuality is a mental disease or addiction.”
The booklet was circulated in June at a meeting of a group of Diet members affiliated with the Shinto Association of Spiritual Leadership, to which many LDP lawmakers belong. The citizens group has been calling for a response over the booklet, which contains discriminatory portrayals of sexual minorities.
Soshi Matsuoka, 27, who organized the civil group, told a press conference held in Tokyo on July 25, “The connection between the right-wing religious group and the LDP’s conservative wing is promoting discrimination and prejudice, degrading human lives and dignity.”
The Shinto Association of Spiritual Leadership is affiliated with Jinja Honcho, a religious corporation overseeing Shinto shrines across Japan. Diet members, primarily from the LDP, who support the association’s principles have participated in gatherings of the lawmakers’ group.
The statement that “homosexuality is a mental disease or addiction” was quoted from the record of a lecture given by a university professor under the title “Learning the truth about homosexuality and same-sex marriages.” The booklet also included a passage stating, “The reason why the sexual lifestyles of sexual minorities should not be justified is because they become social problems that ruin families and society.”
To protest against the booklet, the civic group launched an online signature drive on July 2. It has been calling on the LDP to “clearly deny what is written in the booklet and demonstrate a stance to eliminate discrimination,” and “retrieve the booklets to prevent discriminatory views based on wrong perceptions from spreading any further.”
As a writer, Matsuoka was quick to report on the booklet in question. “Discriminatory remarks over LGBT have been made (by politicians) almost every year, but this booklet contains passages that apparently deny the lives of the people concerned. I regard this as a major incident that is different from previous cases in that a booklet like this was distributed at a meeting of a conference group to which many Cabinet members, including the prime minister, belong.”
In light of political connections with the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, widely known as the Unification Church, coming into the spotlight lately, Matsuoka continued, “I want it to be widely known that the strong connection between the LDP’s conservative wing and the former Unification Church, as well as rightist religious groups such as the Shinto Association of Spiritual Leadership, have continued to hinder gender equality and the rights of sexual minorities, and that this has greatly affected legislation from the local to national government level.”
(Japanese original by Miyuki Fujisawa, Digital News Center; Video by Naoki Watanabe, Video Group)