A ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker is facing intense criticism and even a death threat for writing that gay people are “unproductive” because they don’t have children and should not receive public assistance.

“Those men and women do not reproduce,” Mio Sugita, 51, wrote in a magazine article in reference to gay couples. “In other words, they are ‘unproductive.’ I wonder if it is appropriate to spend taxpayer money on them.”

Her article was carried in the latest edition of the monthly magazine Shincho 45, which was published on July 18, and it immediately drew condemnation on social networking sites.

Some equated her writing with the “concept of eugenics.”

But Sugita, a former public servant who was elected to the Lower House from the proportional representation segment for the Chugoku region, defended the article on her Twitter account on July 22.

She tweeted that a senior LDP legislator provided encouragement by saying, “You should hold your head high because you did not say anything that was wrong.”

Sugita added in the tweet, “I felt that demonstrated the LDP’s bigheartedness.”

However, criticism also erupted within the ruling party.

Shunsuke Takei, a Lower House member and former parliamentary secretary for foreign affairs, tweeted on July 19 that Sugita’s act of spreading such crude feelings is “not politics but simply hate speech.”

Gaku Hashimoto, a Lower House member who heads the LDP’s Health, Labor and Welfare Division, told The Asahi Shimbun that Sugita’s article does not reflect the party’s policies.

“It may be taken as denying the entire welfare policy of authorities,” Hashimoto said.

On July 23, Sugita said she reported to the Akasaka Police Station in Tokyo that a “self-described gay individual” threatened to kill her in an e-mail.

She has deleted her tweets related to the article and declined a request for an interview with The Asahi Shimbun.

“I cannot comment,” she said.

Gay rights activists and journalists who have covered hate speech issues also blasted Sugita.

Hiroko Masuhara, a lesbian who has given lectures and training courses to businesses and organizations about the inclusion of gay people, linked Sugita’s article to the idea of eugenics.

“It can be tied to the thinking of the perpetrator who killed the disabled people in Sagamihara and to the Nazis who slaughtered homosexuals,” she said.

In 2016, a man armed with knives and other weapons broke into an institution for disabled people in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, killing 19 residents and injuring 27 others.

The suspect, Satoshi Uematsu, has publicly asserted that disabled people who are incapable of communicating with others should be euthanized.

Koichi Yasuda, a journalist who has covered the hate speech issue, noted that some members of the conservative bloc tend to distinguish people in terms of “productivity.”

“In today’s society, (minorities) are treated as people who need protection if they appear to be socially vulnerable, but once some minority members begin speaking up, they will become the target of bashing because they are considered ‘too protected,’” he said. “I am gravely concerned about the current state of society.”