Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party decided Friday not to submit to the current parliament session a cross-party bill to promote greater awareness among the public of sexual minorities in the country.
The decision was made amid difficulties in reaching consensus between LDP lawmakers, with some conservative factions voicing strong objection to the bill and stalling the approval process at the party's General Council.
Tsutomu Sato, chairman of the council and one of the party's top-ranking officials, said at a press conference after a panel meeting it would be impossible to pass the bill before the end of the ordinary Diet session on June 16 given the current split in opinions.
The debate concerns a statement within the bill stipulating that "discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is unacceptable" among its philosophical ideals.
Conservative LDP lawmakers have raised concerns that the undefined scope of discrimination could create a society where lawsuits are frequent.
Despite the bill being approved after lengthy deliberations between the party's Special Committee and Policy Research Council Board before Thursday, objections were still raised at the meeting on Friday.
"Deliberations in the Diet operate on a tight schedule. So the General Council can't determine its direction," Sato said.
With the House of Representatives election to be held by the fall and campaigning for the Tokyo metropolitan assembly election to kick off late next month, an executive committee member has expressed concern over losing support among voters if disagreements within the LDP continue.
Yukio Edano, head of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, criticized the LDP's decision to postpone the bill's submission in a virtual party meeting, saying, "As the host nation of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, it is our duty to forward legislation."
Tomoko Tamura, policy chief of the Japanese Communist Party, said the LDP's handling of the bill is problematic as it "goes against the elimination of discrimination."
The bill was drafted by the LDP's Special Mission Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, with a revision agreed on with opposition parties on May 14.
The committee had aimed to pass it in the current Diet session before the Tokyo Games begin on July 23 to reflect the Olympic Charter, which includes a statement prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.