Renowned Japanese actor and director Takeshi 'Beat' Kitano has raised eyebrows for comparing gay marriage to bestiality on national television.
Kitano enraged fellow guests and gay rights activists with the comparison, made after seeing footage of people celebrating President Obama’s recent gay marriage remarks on a popular current affairs show.
‘Obama supports gay marriage,’ said the 65-year-old best known for his yakuza gangster films. ‘You would support a marriage to an animal eventually, then.’
A young actress rebutted him by voicing her support for gay marriage only to be left taken slightly aback, when Kitano said with a laugh that blood brothers and sisters can marry in Egypt.
After highlighting homophobic bully that children adopted by gay couples may face, he went on to contend that if heterosexual and homosexual marriages are both fine, one can also marry an animal.
Taiga Ishikawa, who was among those shown celebrating in the programme, said the comments were inappropriate for someone of Kitano’s global status.
‘He is a world famous film director. It is disappointing that such an influential figure made that kind of negative comment,’ Ishikawa told AFP.
‘As a movie director, he must be a person with a great sense of imagination. I wish he had been able to put himself in the position of gay and lesbian people in society.’
Commentators expect Kitano’s remarks to have little impact since the Japanese tend not to take what entertainers say seriously, who often get away with insensitive views.
Japan boasts arguably the most vibrant ‘pink industry’ in Asia. Homosexuality is broadly accepted but not openly discussed. Gays and lesbians rarely suffer from hate speech, yet they also have very little rights as couples.
However, the rights of gay couples in Japan have been hotly debated over the past week, as Tokyo Disneyland Resort granted approval for two women to have wedding celebrations in whatever clothing they see fit.