National / Social Issues

Coming-of-Age ceremony held for LGBT people in Tokyo's Setagaya Ward

Kyodo

A Coming-of-Age ceremony for young people in the LGBT community was held in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward on Saturday, where the participants and their family members had the chance to exchange thoughts about moving into adulthood.

Some 180 people, ranging in age from those in their teens to some in their 80s, turned up for the event, which was organized by ReBit, a Tokyo-based nonprofit group that supports the LGBT community.

Shunka Hirao, 27, from the city of Mitaka, Tokyo, appeared in a kimono and spoke about her struggle to be recognized as a woman. Born male, she could not talk with her parents about her gender identity for the longest time while growing up.

“I will live in accordance with who I really am, so I can inspire others,” Hirao said.

Setagaya Mayor Nobuto Hosaka was among the attendees of the event. Last year, under Hosaka’s leadership, Setagaya Ward started a program to recognize same-sex unions.

A similar event was also held in Tennozu Ward in the city of Osaka on Saturday. Organizer Yu Morita, 21, said that, while a few municipal governments have recently started to recognize same-sex partnerships, misconceptions about sexual minorities still remain. “We want more people to come to these events to get to know us better,” Morita said.