Japanese out politician urges South Korea to improve LGBT rights

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Taiga Ishikawa, Japan’s only gay politician, has spoken about South Korea’s progress on LGBT rights.

He attended the Korea Queer Festival, which was protested against by conservative Christian groups. Police attempted to ban the parade, on public safety grounds, but the ban was overturned by the courts.

Mr Ishikawa told the Korea Herald: “I was shocked to hear that the parade was blocked by the state forces. It saddened me.

“Then it hit me; there isn’t an openly LGBT lawmaker in Korea yet.

“Policymaking in Japan as a whole is conducted as if sexual minorities do not exist. I wish to be an advocate of LGBTs, as I am one myself.

Mr Ishikawa became Japan’s first gay politician in 2011, when he won a seat on the Tokyo Assembly. He has been firm advocate for LGBT rights.

He went on: “When you look at countries that allow gay marriage, it is widely understood by the ordinary public.

“The trend has been about activists coming out of the closet, but anyone should be able to do so. The hurdle to coming out should be lower.

“The important message is to show that it is not the LGBT people that are evil, but the society that persecutes them.”

Last year the mayor of Seoul said he hoped South Korea would be the first Asian nation to introduce equal marriage.

In April this year, teachers in South Korea were banned from discussing LGBT issues.