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April 20, 2015

'We held the wedding ceremony so that it might become easier for others to do the same in the future'

A celebrity lesbian couple got married in a symbolic ceremony in Tokyo on Sunday (19 April) amid growing calls for Japan to legalize gay marriage.

Actresses Ayaka Ichinose, 34, and Akane Sugimori, 28 — both dressed in white bridal gowns — tied the knot in front of about 80 relatives and friends.

'We held the wedding ceremony so that it might become easier for others to do the same in the future,' Sugimori told press after the ceremony in Shinjuku ward.

April 10, 2015

Find out what it takes to be shortlisted for an Asia LGBT Milestone Award

Business is at the heart of securing positive change for LGBTI people in Asia.

They sponsor pride parades and festivals, try to support their gay and trans staff, and even change hearts and minds.

Here are the 11 organizations shortlisted for the second Asia LGBT Milestone Awards (ALMAs).

100 judges are now choosing the final winners who will be announced at a ceremony in Bangkok on 14 April with tickets available here.

March 31, 2015

Shibuya will issue certificates recognizing gay unions as 'equal to marriage'

Shibuya ward in Tokyo has become the first locale in Japan to recognize gay couples, a major step forward for LGBTI rights in the conservative country.

The district assembly Tuesday (31 March) voted overwhelmingly in favor of issuing certificates recognizing same-sex unions as 'equivalent to marriage' and granting them housing and hospital visitation rights.

March 31, 2015

Shibuya will issue certificates recognizing gay unions as 'equal to marriage'

Shibuya ward in Tokyo has become the first locale in Japan to recognize gay couples, a major step forward for LGBTI rights in the conservative country.

The district assembly Tuesday (31 March) voted overwhelmingly in favor of issuing certificates recognizing same-sex unions as 'equivalent to marriage' and granting them housing and hospital visitation rights.

March 18, 2015

Committee wants to avoid a repeat of the Sochi boycotts

Japanese lawmakers Tuesday (17 March) formed a cross-party group to stamp out anti-gay discrimination in the country by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Hiroshi Hase, Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) member and leader of the committee, said they wanted to avoid a repeat of the Sochi boycotts over Russia's anti-gay law.

'As it hosts the Olympic Games, there is no doubt that Japanese society will be questioned on how it treats its sexual minorities,' he said.

'We must substantiate the principles described in the basic plan of the Games.'

March 18, 2015

Committee wants to avoid a repeat of the Sochi boycotts

Japanese lawmakers Tuesday (17 March) formed a cross-party group to stamp out anti-gay discrimination in the country by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Hiroshi Hase, Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) member and leader of the committee, said they wanted to avoid a repeat of the Sochi boycotts over Russia's anti-gay law.

'As it hosts the Olympic Games, there is no doubt that Japanese society will be questioned on how it treats its sexual minorities,' he said.

'We must substantiate the principles described in the basic plan of the Games.'

March 18, 2015

Celebrating LGBTI Pride around the world

The concept of LGBTI Pride and Pride celebrations has grown to encompass an enormous range of events and occasions around the world.

The origins of LGBTI Pride can be traced back to 28 June 1969 when a police raid of the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in New York City sparked a series of protests from the local LGBTI community.

March 6, 2015

We bring you the stories, the insights, the experiences, and adventures to help inspire your travels.

Once the travel bug bites it is hard to deny the irresistible urge to get out and explore the world.

Here is a round up of some of the travel stories and experiences that we have shared recently.

Travel Reports

We have been traveling the world as much as possible, trying to tick off the countries and destinations that are constantly being added to our ever-growing list. Here are a few of our favorite places:

March 6, 2015

We bring you the stories, the insights, the experiences, and adventures to help inspire your travels.

Once the travel bug bites it is hard to deny the irresistible urge to get out and explore the world.

Here is a round up of some of the travel stories and experiences that we have shared recently.

Travel Reports

We have been traveling the world as much as possible, trying to tick off the countries and destinations that are constantly being added to our ever-growing list. Here are a few of our favorite places:

March 3, 2015

Nine districts are planning measures to support their LGBTI residents

Only one other Tokyo ward is keen to follow Shibuya and Setagaya in issuing partnership certificates to gay couples, a newspaper survey by a has found.

The Japan Times asked the capital's 21 other wards whether they were considering certificates or other measures to publicly acknowledge same-sex relationships.

Only Bunkyo responded positively to both questions.

The ward intends to introduce LGBTI-inclusive policies by March 2016, an official said, but it remains to be seen whether they will include recognition certificates.

March 3, 2015

Nine districts are planning measures to support their LGBTI residents

Only one other Tokyo ward is keen to follow Shibuya and Setagaya in issuing partnership certificates to gay couples, a newspaper survey by a has found.

The Japan Times asked the capital's 21 other wards whether they were considering certificates or other measures to publicly acknowledge same-sex relationships.

Only Bunkyo responded positively to both questions.

The ward intends to introduce LGBTI-inclusive policies by March 2016, an official said, but it remains to be seen whether they will include recognition certificates.

February 19, 2015

Tokyo ward announces plan to recognize same-sex couples

Japan's prime minister has put up a constitutional barrier to gay marriage after a Tokyo ward announced plans to recognize same-sex couples.

Shinzo Abe told parliament Wednesday (18 February) that the issue 'concerns the foundation of how families in our country should be and thus requires extremely careful consideration.'

The current constitution 'does not envisage marriage between people of the same sex,' he said.

February 19, 2015

Yokohama mayor says the conservative country must accept same-sex relationships 'for the sake of the economy'

The mayor of Yokohama, Japan's second largest city, has said a Tokyo ward's draft ordinance to recognize gay couples had galvanized her to introduce similar measures.

Fumiko Hayashi yesterday hailed Shibuya's plan to issue certificates recognizing gay relationships as equivalent to marriages as a 'very good move.'

February 17, 2015

Three in ten oppose the plan by a Tokyo ward to recognize same-sex couples

More than half of Japan supports a Tokyo ward's plan to issue partnership certificates to gay couples, according to a new survey by a major Japanese newspaper.

Three in ten (27%) opposed the idea.

The Asahi Shimbun poll also found that gay marriage supporters narrowly outnumbered opponents: 41% of respondents said gay marriage should be legalized compared to 37% who disagreed.

February 17, 2015

Three in ten oppose the plan by a Tokyo ward to recognize same-sex couples

More than half of Japan supports a Tokyo ward's plan to issue partnership certificates to gay couples, according to a new survey by a major Japanese newspaper.

Three in ten (27%) opposed the idea.

The Asahi Shimbun poll also found that gay marriage supporters narrowly outnumbered opponents: 41% of respondents said gay marriage should be legalized compared to 37% who disagreed.

February 17, 2015

Setagaya's announcement comes days after Shibuya unveiled a plan to issue certificates to same-sex couples

Tokyo’s Setagaya ward has said it may follow Shibuya’s lead and recognize gay relationships as 'equivalent to marriage,' days after its neighbor announced a vote on the issue.

Mayor Nobuto Hosaka said Sunday (15 February) at a coming-of-age ceremony for LGBTI youth that Shibuya’s move to had prompted Setagaya to examine its own policies toward gay couples.

'We will strive to create a society that values diversity and respects human rights,' he tweeted.

February 12, 2015

Shibuya could become the first local government in Japan to grant rights to same-sex couples

Tokyo’s Shibuya ward has made plans to issue certificates recognizing gay unions as 'relationships equivalent to marriage.'

The plan was outlined in a draft statute in the ward's 2015 budget, which is expected to be unveiled today (12 February) and presented to the municipal assembly in early March.

January 22, 2015

On the road with TV personalities, activists and models galore

Jason Carter [right] – on-air host and Pit Crew member for RuPaul's Drag Race

Best known as the most talkative of the Pit Crew on RuPaul’s Drag RaceJason Carter has also built on his modelling career to become a widely loved on-air host for television and social media entertainment programs.

January 15, 2015

Yukio Hatoyama plays the first female president of the US

A former Japanese Prime Minister yesterday (14 January) made his musical debut musical in Tokyo – in drag!

Yukio Hatoyama played retired politician Rosario, who served as the first female president of the US, a part that required both singing and dancing.

Other cast members in the original production, Waist Size Story, included Orix senior chairman Yoshihiko Miyauchi and Japanese Red Cross Society president Tadateru Konoe.

The musical tells the story of former delinquents, who are now in their late 60s and live on the West Side of Manhattan.

November 28, 2014

Taiga Ishikawa could become the first out male lawmaker in the country

A LGBTI Tokyo assemblyman has announced that he will run for parliament in next month's elections.

If successful, Taiga Ishikawa, 40, will become the first gay male lawmaker in the conservative country.

'My goal is to promote diversity in the community,' he told the Wall Street Journal.

October 9, 2014

The 'accidental activist' tells GSN how changing her gender marker changed her life

It took Geena Rocero nearly a decade to come out publicly as transgender from the time she moved to New York to become a model. But when she did, she came out to an audience of 2 million and counting in a TED talk on March 31, the International Transgender Day of Visibility.

Rocero, 30, grew up in Manila and entered and won her first beauty pageant at the age of 15. She originally intended to follow her transgender friends to Japan, but she changed her plans when she found out she could change her gender marker in California - and in doing so change her life.

April 27, 2014

Akie Abe wore rainbow badges and appeared on a float at Tokyo’s annual gay pride parade

Akie Abe, the first lady of Japan, joined gay, lesbian and transgender people celebrating gay pride in Tokyo, Japan today (27 April).

Abe was joined by over 3,000 participants in the Shibuya district of Tokyo.

The 51-year-old, who is the wife of conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, wore a white suit adorned with rainbow badges.

She went on to post colourful pictures on her Facebook page of her on a pride float next to a drag queen, smiling and waving to the crowds.

March 21, 2014

A HIV awareness billboard that was erected in Tokyo’s Ni-chome gay district has been repeatedly banned by local officials because it contained an image of a gay man’s underpants

Local authorities in the Japanese capital repeatedly banned a HIV awareness billboard that featured cartoon gay men because one of the men’s underpants could be seen.

The billboard was erected in Toyko’s Ni-chome gay district in Shinjuku by ViiV Healthcare and designed by manga artist Poko Murata.

The billboard depicts a group of men lying down in a circle head-to-head resting against one another – and one of them, a body builder, is wearing just underpants. The rest of the characters on the billboard are fully clothed.

February 18, 2014

IOC spokesman says countries who do not abide by an anti-discrimination rule could factor in decisions on the bidding process

Russia, and other countries with homophobic laws, could be banned from hosting the Olympics under a proposed new rule.

The International Olympics Committee has responded to calls that countries must abide by a specific anti-discrimination decree modelled on the Olympic Charter’s Principle 6.

Principle 6 says sport does not discriminate on any grounds, including race, religion, politics or gender.