A ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker on Aug. 1 defended his view expressed on an Internet TV show that gay marriage should not be legalized because sexual orientation is a matter of “taste.”

Tomu Tanigawa made the remarks while appearing as a panelist on a debate show broadcast July 29 on Abema TV.

In an Aug. 1 written response to an interview request made by The Asahi Shimbun on July 31, Tanigawa said, “What I meant was that it is difficult to accept same-sex marriage under Article 24 of the Constitution that states ‘marriage shall be based only on the mutual consent of both sexes.’”

Tanigawa, 42, a Buddhist priest who has been voted into office twice by the Kinki electorate under the proportional representation system, also wrote, “I did not intend to discriminate against LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people, nor do I deny diversity.”

In the debate show, panelist Hirotada Ototake, a bestselling author, raised questions over how the government is stubbornly refusing to allow married couples to legally retain different surnames and the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Tanigawa responded that he “does not deny sexual diversity,” but also believes “there is no need to legalize same-sex marriage” because choosing whether to love someone of the same sex or opposite sex is a “matter of taste.”

He then elaborated on the reason he believes only heterosexual marriage should be legally allowed.

“A man and a woman get married, and have children. That is how a traditional family is formed,” said Tanigawa. “Humans have been doing so from antiquity to fend off nations’ decline and ruin.”

Tanigawa’s comments are at odds with a booklet published by the LDP to be distributed within the party to raise awareness on sexual minority issues. The booklet warns readers that “there is widespread misunderstanding that (being a sexual minority) is a matter of individual will, taste or preference.”

The contentious remarks came only days after Mio Sugita, another LPD lawmaker, drew criticism for her anti-gay remarks in a magazine article she wrote. Sugita said gay couples are “unproductive” because they cannot produce children and, therefore, do not contribute to prosperity of the nation.