Taiga Ishikawa (middle) on the campaign trail before he became the first openly-gay male politician in the country’s national parliament (Photo: Twitter)
Japan’s newly-elected openly-gay lawmaker, Taiga Ishikawa, said Japan will have same-sex marriage within his six years in office.
LGBTI rights activist turned politician Taiga Ishikawa this week won a seat for the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ) in the Upper House.
He became the second out politician to win a seat in the national parliament after Kanako Otsuji was elected to the Upper House in 2013.
‘Since the early 2000s, the issue of same-sex marriage has progressed leaps and bounds,’ Ishikawa told Reuters this week.
‘It will happen within the six years of my term, I am sure.’
— Jun Tsuboike 坪池順 (@juntsuboike) July 22, 2019
Otsuji last month helped table an equal marriage bill, but the notoriously anti-LGBTI ruling party have declined to debate it.
Speaking to Reuters, Ishikawa said it was ‘incredibly empowering’ for the LGBTI community to witness same-sex marriage overseas.
This year, Northern Ireland, Ecuador and, most importantly, nearby Taiwan, have all legalized same-sex marriage.
‘I think we’ve got a breakthrough now and I plan to move the conversation forward.’
‘A big challenge’ in Japan
Conservative Japan does not allow same-sex marriage. National laws also do not protect LGBTI people from discrimination.
A survey conducted last year suggested the majority of Japanese support same-sex marriage. But this did not include Japan’s large older, conservative population.
But, since 2016, local municipalities have been providing couples with limited recognition in government hospitals and housing.
Ibaraki Prefecture became the first of Japan’s 47 prefectures to implement the partnership certification system.
The Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (LDP), which leads the ruling coalition has also been vocal in its opposition to same-sex marriage.
Last month, it tabled a much-anticipated LGBT bill. But, they included no mention of marriage or anti-discrimination rights.
Ai Nakajima, who is one of 26 people who launched a court case against the government to recognize their same-sex partnerships, said equal marriage within six years would be a ‘big challenge’.
Local LGBTI rights activist Hideki Sunagawa also told gay star news it would still be difficult to legalize same-sex marriage due to LDP’s stance.
But, he said, Ishikawa’s win was a ‘a very big step’.
He said the difference between Ishikawa and the first out lawmaker Otutsuji was that Ishikawa had campaigned on an LGBTI rights ticket and won.