Thousands join gay pride parade in Japanese capital amid calls for same-sex marriage 


April 27, Tokyo: About 3,000 people have marched in a gay pride parade in Tokyo as calls grow for Japan to legalize same-sex marriage after a lesbian couple held a symbolic wedding ceremony.

The crowd, mainly from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community as well as their supporters and sex workers, paraded through the capital’s entertainment and shopping district of Shibuya.

Waving rainbow-colored flags and banners, foreign and Japanese campaigners marched in colorful carnival and kimono-clad “geisha” outfits.

The annual parade came a week after a lesbian couple tied the knot in front of some 80 relatives and friends in Shibuya, although their marriage is not legally recognized.

The Shibuya district council voted earlier this year to issue “partnership” certificates to gay couples, the first such recognition of same-sex unions in Japan. Other municipalities are now considering doing the same.

The certificate will carry only symbolic significance, since the Japanese constitution identifies marriage as a union based on mutual consent of the parties from “both sexes”.

“We simply want to be with a loved one,” said Fumino Sugiyama, 33, one of the parade organizers.

“But [the law] denies our idea. We are frustrated and don’t know what to do.”

While Japan is largely tolerant of homosexuality, there is no specific legal protection for gay people.

Some people in the LGBT community in Japan have raised concerns that they may be prevented from visiting sick loved ones in hospitals or refused a tenancy because their relationship is not recognized.          The Oslo Times

Source: AFP

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