An online petition demanding an apology from a female lawmaker who recently penned an article questioning public support for members of Japan's sexual minority communities had been signed by over 25,000 people as of Wednesday, the organizers said.
In a monthly magazine article in mid-July, Mio Sugita, 51, a Liberal Democratic Party member of the House of Representatives, wrote, "Can spending taxpayers' money on LGBT couples gain approval? They don't make children. In other words, they lack 'productivity.'"
Following public anger, the LDP instructed Sugita to be "very careful," posting a message on its website last week stating that Sugita's views did not conform with the party's official stance on issues related to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters last week that it is "only natural to aim for a society in which human rights are respected and diversity is cherished."
Parents of LGBT individuals have asked the ruling party to hold a press conference attended by Sugita and delete her name from the party's list.
They have called on others to join their campaign, launched in late July on the change.org website, which is used to gather signatures for various social issues.
"I feel like 'not productive' means 'not worth living,'" said a 66-year-old woman from Kanagawa Prefecture who signed the petition.
A member of nonprofit organization LGBT Families and Friends, the woman added that Sugita's views were similar to those of Satoshi Uematsu, indicted for killing 19 mentally disabled people at a care home near Tokyo in 2016. The man had said disabled people "should be eradicated from society."
The Japan Alliance for LGBT Legislation, a civic group seeking legal change to eliminate discrimination against sexual minorities, blamed the LDP for its attitude on the issue.
"If she continues as a lawmaker while thinking lightly of human rights, we cannot help but have fear and anxiety," the group said.