Stopping gay suicides is ‘low priority,’ says Japanese MP on TV

A Japanese MP has sparked outrage after saying the high rate of gay people dying by suicide is not enough to justify teaching children about LGBT issues.

Mio Sugita, a lawmaker for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party who sits in the House of Representatives, caused a backlash earlier this month when she wrote that gay relationships would lead to the destruction of society.

As well as composing that inflammatory opinion piece, entitled “The level of support for ‘LGBT’ is too high,” Sugita has also appeared on TV to speak out against LGBT education, as reported by Kotaku.

Sugita is in Japan’s House of Representatives (SakuraSoTV/youtube)

The 51-year-old politician repeated many of the opinions she voiced in her controversial article, including the idea that the government shouldn’t use public funds to support same-sex couples because “it is not meaningful to use taxes on unproductive people.”

She then told the hosts that she had recently been asked about LGBT education in schools.

“I said: ‘Of course there’s no need for such a thing. Of course not,” recalled Sugita.

“Even if the suicide rate is high, the priority is low” (SakuraSoTV/youtube)

“They told me that the suicide rate among homosexual children is six times higher than that of normal children. ‘Do you still think it’s unnecessary?’ they asked.

“Even if the suicide rate is high, the priority is low, I think,” Sugita continued, answering the question.

“School teachers have many things to do and they don’t have time to use for LGBT education. Teachers will not always be able to educate properly. The possibility of mistaken education cannot be denied.”

Later in the same interview, Sugita said she had experienced attraction to other students at her all-girls school, even going as far as to write to them about her feelings.

Sugita is in her second term (mio sugita/facebook)

“If there was a cool-looking girl, I would write her a love letter and whatnot. But as I got older, I fell in love with a man, got married and became a mother.”

Sugita then poured scorn on the idea of, “in such a sensitive time like adolescence, saying: ‘There’s nothing wrong with a woman loving another woman’ [or] ‘There’s nothing wrong with a man loving another man.

“‘Everyone stick your chest out and be proud. Homosexual people, be proud!'” she added, laughing.

She warned that if LGBT young people were told to accept their sexualities and love themselves for who they are, they might stay LGBT – which sounds fine to us.

Sugita with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (mio sugita/facebook)

She asked: “What would happen if we taught that kind of education?

“You wouldn’t be able to go back to being normal again.”

Japan is relatively accepting of LGBT people compared to other Asian countries, with eight cities and city wards including Fukuoka and Sapporo having legally recognised same-sex unions.

Authorities have also started to introduce genderless uniforms into schools across the country.

TOKYO, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 05:  Japanese couple Koyuki Higashi (L) and Hiroko Masuhara (R) celebrate as hold up their same-sex marriage certificate in front of Shibuya's Hachiko statue on November 5, 2015 in Tokyo, Japan. Shibuya Ward in the Tokyo became the first local government in Japan to issue the official certificates recognizing same-sex partnerships.  (Photo by Christopher Jue/Getty Images)

Some parts of Japan allow same-sex unions (Christopher Jue/Getty)

Taiga Ishikawa – who became the country’s first openly gay politician in 2011 – said that Sugita’s initial comments “significantly tarnish Japan’s reputation.”

Ishikawa, who is a member of the Toshima Ward Assembly, added: “Homosexuality is not the definition of unhappiness.

“It’s discriminatory remarks like Sugita’s that make us unhappy.”