Friday, March 06, 2015

Blog 4: Small step by Tokyo district could be giant leap for the LBGT equality


Same-sex couples in Japan are awaiting the results of a debate in a Tokyo local assembly that may give them what their Western counterparts have long had: a chance to step out of the shadows. In japan things are little different than here. All though there are hate crimes still being done here to our LBGT community still it’s not to the extent that things are done to our LBGT community in other places. The LBGT community here can still walk outside their homes and be able to hold hands, have a family and now get married and have it be recognized as a legal marriage. It took a while for them to get there, but they are a lot further along than a lot of other LBGT communities. The proposal by Tokyo's Shibuya ward to recognize same-sex partnerships from April may seem insignificant compared with the United States, where gay marriage is legal in all but 13 states. But it is the first such move in Japan, where the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community is all but invisible. "It's as if the door has opened up a little. It may be much less than we expected, but the first bit is really hard," said Hitoshi Ohashi, who runs a gallery out of the Tokyo apartment he shares with his partner, author Bob Tobin. An example of the communities is different there is that in Japan, legally binding civil unions remain a distant dream for the LGBT community, with same-sex partners often unable to rent apartments. Being openly gay is taboo, and many sport fake wedding rings or enter marriages of convenience.
There is some division on the proposal in the LBGT community. Some note that the statute, which has few legal teeth, only guarantees rights for couples without extending the same to individuals, and that it may have been hurriedly put together to burnish Tokyo's image before it hosts the 2020 Summer Olympics.
By: Tabitha mcLaughlin
11:20 am, March 6, 2015

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