Sexual minorities demanded Friday an apology from a ruling party lawmaker who claimed in a magazine article that the government should not support LGBT couples because they cannot bear offspring and thus are unproductive.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families submitted about 26,000 signatures to the headquarters of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party in Tokyo, requesting that lawmaker Mio Sugita hold a press conference to apologize.

The signatures were collected online for about a month to demand the LDP remove Sugita, a 51-year-old House of Representatives member who has a daughter, if her attitude does not change, and enact a law to ban discrimination against sexual minorities.

Among messages posted on the website soliciting signatures, one person said, "Ms. Sugita should be responsible for her remark, admit her fault and apologize."

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The mother of a transgender fourth grader said in her post, "It is really terrible. Ms. Sugita, what you are doing is bullying."

Titled "Support for LGBT is too much," the article contributed by Sugita to the conservative magazine Shincho 45 on July 18, said: "Can spending taxpayers' money for LGBT couples gain approval? They don't make children. In other words, they lack 'productivity.'"

In early August, the LDP asserted in a statement it is against Sugita's view. But the party's initial response apparently tolerating her stance had fueled public anger.

The party's No. 2 figure, Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai, said at a press conference on July 24 that the LDP "is a gathering of wide-ranging people from right to left. Each (LDP politician) has his or her own political position and life philosophy."

(Mio Sugita)