Rainbow parade celebrates LGBT equality push


Staff Writer

Some 3,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people paraded through Tokyo’s Shibuya district Sunday afternoon to demonstrate their hope that Japanese society will continue to forge ahead with recent moves to embrace equality and diversity.

In a nation where prejudice against sexual minorities persists, the annual Tokyo Rainbow Pride parade has sought to counter the trend by openly spotlighting LGBT residents and spreading their voices.

But this year, LGBT participants and proponents seemed particularly joyous, emboldened by what they see as a blossoming of LGBT-friendly moves by municipalities and companies.

“The mood is definitely different this year. All the flyers or other goods we have prepared for visitors are disappearing like mad,” said female-to-male transgender Fumino Sugiyama,one of the event’s chief organizers.

Last month, an unprecedented ordinance passed by the Shibuya Ward Assembly in Tokyo saw the district become the first in the nation to issue legally nonbinding certificates that would declare same-sex partnerships as “equivalent to marriage,” allowing them to be treated on a par with married couples in terms of hospital visits and apartment rentals.

Amid the surge in public interest in LGBT issues, organizers decided to extend the festival to two days for the first time, Sugiyama added.

“Since sexuality is something invisible, the issue of LGBT people tends to be regarded as nonexistent unless they make their voices heard,” he said. “The purpose of this event is to make LGBT people visible, but do it in a cheerful, funny way.”

Indeed, parade participants were dressed in an array of gorgeous, attention-grabbing attire, with some attempting to emulate pop diva Lady Gaga and others proudly wielding rainbow flags, a well-known symbol of LGBT equality.

This year also saw numerous companies — including Google, ad giant Dentsu Inc. and clothing retailer Gap Inc. — join in on the fun by setting up booths. Employees from 11 financial industry firms, including Nomura Holdings and JPMorgan Chase & Co., marched as well, holding up placards declaring their companies’ commitment to LGBT equality and diversity.

“Being diverse is not optional; it is what we must be,” the sign from Goldman Sachs read.

Before the parade, lesbian couple Rei and Megumi, who asked to be identified only by their first names, said the public trend in Japan is definitely toward embracing LGBT people.

“In this age of diversity, we are no different from non-LGBT people. There is nothing special about us,” said Megumi, 26.

Kazumi Nakamura, a 51-year-old gay man who was legally married to his partner, Peterjan Bussink, in Holland in 2001, said Japan significantly lags other industrialized nations in developing legal systems that recognize same-sex partnerships of any sort.

There are also some conservative politicians who openly dismiss the idea of same-sex marriage as a threat to traditional family values, he said.

“We’re not asking for the legalization of same-sex marriages in Japan so we can destroy something,” Nakamura said. “Rather, we’re merely asking to create something new so we can be a part of society.”

The latest data released by Dentsu showed Thursday that LGBT residents account for 7.6 percent of the population, up 2.4 percent from its previous online survey in 2012. It also said LGBT people account for ¥5.94 trillion of the nation’s spending.

  • https://www.facebook.com/manuelmoreira.rodrigues.3 Misha Lappalainen

    Times are changing for the best <3

  • Terence Nomoto

    to the social engineers – you cant foist a solution without first creating the problem reaction, your political correctness does not work here, we don’t have an issue with any of this, it’s a non-issue.

    Worry about what to do with melted coriums at Dai ichi.

  • http://liataja.com Katya

    abnormal people

  • Jamie Bakeridge

    Good luck to them and congratulations to those companies that support the event. We need to push back against the uneducated bigots who oppose this.

  • Johnny LoveFive

    Of course done in only a way that Japan can do!

  • Rachael Mitchell

    Hope they got the word across to some people. Hope they’re safe

  • Eagle

    A few decades ago gays and lesbians were discriminated and often prosecuted. Now days it is fully permitted, propagated, approved, they are supported and protected as the article shows.

    I sincerely hope it will not be made compulsory for everyone.

    Seeing the unprovoked and approved offenses in these boards, in general, against those who dare have different opinion and reading the deleted messages I think that time is not too far.

  • Eagle

    Hello Mod,

    What did I say that needed to be removed in such a haste?

    Please next time add to the title ” pro gay lesbian site , only LGTB member’s pro comments are approved in the name of freedom of speech.” OMG .So pathetic, so miserable.

  • Eagle

  • Eagle