TOKYO • Japan's ruling party has come under fire over remarks by one of its lawmakers who said gay and lesbian couples were "unproductive" because they cannot have children.
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) politician Mio Sugita, an ally of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, sparked protests over an article she wrote last month questioning spending taxpayers' money on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender couples.
"Can we obtain approval of spending taxpayers' money for LGBT couples? They don't make children. In other words, they lack productivity," she wrote.
Some 5,000 people protested outside the LDP headquarters in Tokyo two weeks ago over her remarks and similar demonstrations are planned in Osaka and other cities over the weekend, organisers said.
Mr Abe attempted to calm the furore, saying Ms Sugita's remarks contradicted the party's policy on sexual minorities.
"It is natural to aim for a society where human rights and diversity are respected," he said last Thursday.
The LDP also separately warned her to pay more attention to her remarks, saying in a statement: "Lawmaker Sugita's article... includes phrases reflecting her lack of understanding of (LGBT) issues and consideration for the feelings of people involved."
But the party stopped short of reprimanding her despite growing calls for her resignation.
Ms Sugita - a mother of one - reportedly said she would take the party's instruction "seriously" but neither apologised nor withdrew her remarks.
A group of local legislators has urged her to apologise to the LGBT community and retract the article.