politics

Small step by Tokyo's Shibuya Ward could be giant leap for LGBT equality

41 Comments
By Elaine Lies

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I find this whole issue rather bizarre given how comfortable the Japanese media in particular is with gay, transgendered and transsexual talento, etc., and given the long history of acceptance of homosexuality dating back hundreds of years. One would think that if any country in this part of the world WOULDN'T have an issue with same sex marriage, it would be Japan, and yet, in a country run by old conservative men, people who ought to already have equal rights are forced to remain in the closet. Bizarre.

Here's hoping that this bill passes and that it becomes the metaphorical snowball rolling downhill that causes an avalanche of acceptance and understanding - and more importantly, equal rights.

8 ( +12 / -4 )

Great, now we get to watch a bunch of stupid old people argue for their prejudices...again!

0 ( +4 / -4 )

“We need to be very careful when considering whether or not to change the constitution to accept same-sex marriage as this issue touches on the fundamentals of how we live,” Abe said.

No it doesn't. It doesn't change how you live one whit. It only changes how the couples live, and your prejudices shouldn't impact on their quality of life.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

the fundamentals of how we live

Abe could have LGBT couple as neighbors, when he leaves the (Whatever) House! That what he means?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I find this whole issue rather bizarre given how comfortable the Japanese media in particular is with gay, transgendered and transsexual talento, etc.

Watching and having fun with (of?) "talento" playing "over the top" lgbt is very different from having the society accepting it as part of itself, which is very far from being done in Japan.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Some note that the statute, which has few legal teeth, only guarantees rights for couples without extending the same to individuals 

For the umpteenth time, the statute has no legal teeth, and guarantees no rights to anyone. It says only that Shibuya will recognize two people of the same sex as a couple, and encourages landlords, hospitals etc. in Shibuya to do the same. That's it. It's monopoly money. In fact, the couple has to submit a notarized statement saying each volunteers to be legally responsible for the other.

But yes, it's definitely a step in the right direction.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

The picture above- "Kimochi warui!"

-4 ( +6 / -10 )

The picture above- "Kimochi warui!"

It's sad that an expression of love makes people feel uncomfortable.

Fortunately attitudes like this are basically already outdated in the current generation of youth, and will only become more fringe as time passes by.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

Public opinion on the bill appears to be divided largely along generational lines, with younger people more accepting. “It’s common sense that people of the opposite sex attract each other, so somebody older like me can’t accept same-sex couples,” said 70-year-old Junji Sato.

And there's the difficulty facing gay rights in Japan, an increasing, aging population who are more likely to vote and get the ear of politicians. Younger people must step up to the plate and make themselves heard. Otherwise this will take a whole generation to come about.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Just because America is allowing this doesn't mean that Shibuya should. In fact, they should close the door before what happened in parts of the states disrupt the beauty of Japan.

-10 ( +4 / -14 )

paulinusa Mar. 05, 2015 - 09:33AM JST And there's the difficulty facing gay rights in Japan, an increasing, aging population who are more likely to vote and get the ear of politicians.

When considering hostile working conditions in Japan, many older workers will encourage to allow for the possibility of the worst behavior in the workplace. Threats of termination, hiring discrimination, and overt hostility, the majority of LGBT people in the workplace complain about feeling isolated because of their sexual orientation or gender variance. Fear of isolation is what keeps many LGBT people in the closet. The isolation is created by the lack of social interactions with colleagues, especially conversations on personal life.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Just because America is allowing this doesn't mean that Shibuya should.

I agree. They should do it because it's the right thing to do, not because America is doing it.

5 ( +10 / -5 )

Great, now we get to watch a bunch of stupid old people argue for their prejudices...again!

And we get to watch another bunch of stupid people argue about how their new prejudice is better than the old one.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

These are good steps but sadly I really don't see anything at all happening in Japan, and it's probably likely to get worse as the population greys and becomes more conservative. This just might be one value that is too Western for Japan

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Misery loves company, feel free to enjoy the misery of marriage just like us straight guys!!! Irasshai!!!

0 ( +3 / -3 )

So glad to see all of these comments. Moving forward, one step at a time.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Bob Tobin, Congrats!

3 ( +6 / -3 )

I hope this is the first step towards true marriage equality. If some other wards do the same it can start a genuine dialogue which, ideally, would lead to legal changes allowing same-sex couples to wed and be recognized as married.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

'These are good steps but sadly I really don't see anything at all happening in Japan, and it's probably likely to get worse as the population greys and becomes more conservative. This just might be one value that is too Western for Japan'

I'm not so sure. Not too many would have predicted what happened in the US ( where opposition from many was religious - not as much of an obstacle in Japan ) on gay rights 20 years ago. I think anti-gay prejudice is very often a product of a particular time or often a religion and people don't get more anti-gay as they get older. The Japanese people I know around my age ( 40 ) don't have a problem with it.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Definitely is a step in the right direction. As with any big change, this might take a while but I'm glad it's even getting considered.

And, as someone else said, Japan should do this because it's the right thing to do. Not because America is doing it. And not because of the upcoming Olympics.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

and given the long history of acceptance of homosexuality dating back hundreds of years Paedophilia as well in fact. You'll find that was also an accepted practice - especially among the samurai. Back on topic, I don't find anything particularly offensive about this move. Gay-marriage of course, is another matter

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Thank You Chris Glen-Yeah, sexual exploitation of children has been a problem in japan for a while. Heck, wasn't kiddy porn just banned here recently? Yet everyone still turns their heads, but are here in this forum ACCLAIMING rights for LGBT. Pathetic.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

“Gay people have always been invisible, but this really takes us out of the shadows,”

Really? So all those Gay Pride marches, wandering around dressed outlandishly and stuff like that? Invisible? If we straight people did that we'd be labelled exhibitionists or attention seekers... in Japan or anywhere... except San Francisco I imagine.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

it's probably likely to get worse as the population greys and becomes more conservative.

I don't think young people today, who are more accepting of alternative lifestyles, will change their mind just because they get older. Som might, but generally I think we'll have a more accepting group of elders in the future.

this issue touches on the fundamentals of how we live

Nor really. The only people whose lives will change if the LGBT community gets more rights, are people in that community. Gay isn't a disease. It's a part of who you are. Being unable to express that only makes you miserable, Why would you want that for anyone?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

“We need to be very careful when considering whether or not to change the constitution to accept same-sex marriage as this issue touches on the fundamentals of how we live,”

I don't get it. Will something bad happen if gay people are accepted by the law??

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Isn't another way of saying "taking small steps" mincing?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

As many posters have already mentioned, Shudo or Japanese pederasty (a homosexual relationship between grown men and younger prepubescent males) is a major (though not often talked about) tradition in samurai culture. It is one of Japan's ancient institutions, so tolerating gay relationships is nothing radical, so what's the hold up?

Perhaps Japan has Westernized, to a degree that's to say the country has caught up to an earlier phase in Western history.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Bob Tobin (top) and Hitoshi Ohashi, a same-sex couple, pose in their home in Tokyo. REUTERS/Yuya Shino

LOL i love how the picture caption clearly defines who is the top and who is the bottom

3 ( +3 / -0 )

NeoJamal. I saw that movie, "Last Samurai." There were no shudo scenes so you're wrong.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

I do not like the ideal of giving special rights to LGBT people ,everyone has rights as human beings. But This indeed is CONFUSION!!!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

What special rights? They aren't asking for anything special, simple to be treated equal.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

First, I'm all for LBGT rights and hope this thing goes through. But what does make me angry are the incompetent comments some of you are leaving.

As much as I loathe Abe and want him and his old boy gang out, admitting gay rights would change everything. Everything = money. Money that they would have to give to level the playing field.

This isn't about letting people love each other and live together, this is about premiums and tax allowances, etc. Again, in a word, money.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Small step by Tokyo's Shibuya Ward could be giant leap for LGBT equality

I have many gay friends and relatives and I find it hard to understand how anyone can discriminate against them just because the person they fell in love with isn't a person of the opposite sex!

If you find a mate that makes you happy and complete, well marry them and live your life in happiness with them.

Too many people have lived the lives that their parents and families wanted them to live rather than the lives they should have lived. I feel sorry for them, I am so glad that the friends and relatives I have who are gay and decided to live their lives in the open as who they were rather than the lives others wanted them to live.

Anyone who can't accept someone for who they are, judges them and condemns them for the way look, act or who they prefer when it comes to sex isn't worth a grain of salt.

I would rather have a drink with an honest person than one that lies his/her way through life!

Too many men and women today are living lies all for the sake of their families. They marry, have kids and look like the perfect Norman Rockwell portrait, but in reality are living a lie and hating every minute of it.

I just hope that one day people will accept others for who they are rather than hating them.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@Joe

"I just hope that one day people will accept others for who they are rather than hating them."

What, even the "Commies". ; )

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Too many men and women today are living lies all for the sake of their families. They marry, have kids and look like the perfect Norman Rockwell portrait, but in reality are living a lie and hating every minute of it.

That's a pretty sweeping statement.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

'Too many men and women today are living lies all for the sake of their families. They marry, have kids and look like the perfect Norman Rockwell portrait, but in reality are living a lie and hating every minute of it.'

Some people are not a member of, nor have ever been, a member of a happy marriage. Thankfully, for myself and my comrade spouse, this is not the case.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan Today, can you update the caption on that photo to something a little less weird? It's clear that they're a same sex couple. More importantly, they're just a couple. You wouldn't label a photo of an interracial couple as "Steve and Jane, a black and white mixed couple" or a straight couple as "Mark and Susan, a straight couple". They're just A COUPLE!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Japan2012: Mayve Taro and Jiro. And when they became gay. Q like if they became gay because they attended boys HS and talking to girls were prohibited; etc

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

"It's clear that they're a same sex couple. More importantly, they're just a couple."

@Japan2012, I see your point, but in this case, I think it makes sense. Was it an article about anything else than LGBT rights it would be very tasteless to point out they're a same-sex couple. Here though, it just puts a fat line under the fact that gay people ARE a part of society and should be treated like everyone else.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Small step by Tokyo's Shibuya Ward could be giant leap for LGBT equality

Isnt ' it small leap for them? Nothing about same sex marriage for them.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I do not like the ideal of giving special rights to LGBT people

Noone is saying anything about special rights. They should just have the same rights as anyone else.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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