Japan: Liberal Democratic Party and tradition may stymie push for same-sex marriage in Japan

As Japanese lawmakers grapple with a landmark same-sex marriage bill, campaigners fear it may die at the first legislative hurdle as lawmakers pander to aging voters and old traditions. While surveys show overwhelming support for gay rights, most people who identify as LGBT say they keep their sexuality a secret in a nod to the reverence for harmony that pervades the country.

“Japan is a culture where people don’t want to stick out and cause trouble,” said Alexander Dmitrenko, co-chair of Lawyers for LGBT & Allies Network, an NGO that promotes LGBT rights.

“It’s also a very process-oriented society, where things take a longer time to happen,” added Dmitrenko, who worked on Canada’s LGBT laws. He said the bill, while unlikely to lead to a new law, was only a first draft, adding: “As any lawyer will tell you, the first draft of any law is the hardest, so this is significant.”

The same-sex marriage bill — a first for Japan — was introduced earlier this month, and LGBT campaigners have already raised fears that right-wingers could stymie its passage, despite growing acceptance of gay, bisexual and transgender people.

“To be honest, it’s going to be tough to get this through parliament,” said Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker Kanako Otsuji — the only openly gay member of the Diet. “But the legislature is totally out of sync with the will of the people (on same-sex marriage).”

Otsuji and two other opposition party members submitted the bill weeks after Taiwan became the first place in Asia to allow same-sex marriage. However, it faces the immediate task of passing through both houses of the Diet, both of which are controlled by a coalition led by the Liberal Democratic Party. Read more via Japan Times