Two Tokyo wards issue Japan’s first ever same-sex partnership certificates

Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward has been creating headlines around the world since the district first announced that it would begin issuing Japan’s first same-sex partnership certificates in the fall. Fast forward to this month, and both Shibuya and neighboring Setagaya Ward today issued their very first certificates!

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Japanese cell phone provider gives same-sex couples with Partnership Certificates family discount

Cell phone service in Japan isn’t exactly cheap, and if you spend a lot of time on your smartphone talking with clients, chatting with friends, or otherwise keeping in touch with the rest of the world, it’s not hard to run up a monthly bill in the neighborhood of 10,000 yen (US$84). Thankfully, Japanese providers offer a variety of discounts to help soften the blow, with reduced rates for family members being a huge help.

Now, as part of the changing societal concept of what constitutes a family, Japan’s largest telecommunications provider has begun offering family discounts to same-sex couples who present documentation of their union.

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Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward to begin legally recognizing same-sex partnerships

In a landmark move last February, Shibuya Ward in Tokyo announced it would begin legally officiating same-sex partnerships, giving gay couples the same rights as married heterosexual couples. While the movement, set to begin in October this year, has received some scrutiny, it has also seen plenty of support.

Now, in what may be the beginning of a domino effect, one of Shibuya’s neighboring wards, Setagaya, has also announced that it will be offering the same legal recognition to same-sex couples, beginning this November.

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Kesho Danshi: Visiting Yushima’s sublime transgender bars

Miya Inoue is the kimono-clad owner of the chain of bars in Tokyo’s Yushima neighborhood operating under the Kesho Danshi brand staffed primarily by transgender women. She also built the interior of the first location herself by hand, drawing on her previous work experience as a carpenter. As the “Big Mama” of Kesho Danshi, Miya spends her time managing the staff at three locations, chatting with customers, and, amazingly, remembering everyone’s name. Oh, and did we mention she’s written an inspiring book about her life?

If you’re looking for good conversation and a fun place to drink in Tokyo, you can’t find a much better place than sitting across the counter from Miya or any of the welcoming staff members. Click below to take a visit to all three of the Kesho Danshi locations and listen in on our chat with “Miya Big Mama” yourself.

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Japanese telecommunications company KDDI to extend “family discount” to same-sex couples

Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward made headlines and had supporters of LGBT rights praising its progressiveness this past February when it announced that it would begin offering “partnership certificates”, which would extend the same legal benefits that married couples enjoy to same-sex couples.

While Japan may still be some way from following many Western countries’ leads and legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide, the country is gradually making progress. Take, for example, KDDI – one of Japan’s major telecommunications companies – which has just announced its decision to offer their “family discount” to same-sex couples who provide a partnership certificate.

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Taiwan’s capital city begins registration of same-sex partnerships

Most Asian nations, when compared to Western countries, have a relatively conservative mindset towards same-sex unions, but 2015 seems to be a progressive year for the LGBT community in Asia so far.

Earlier this year, Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward became the first ward to recognize same-sex marriages in Japan. In May, Taiwan’s Kaohsiung City took the first step towards administrating same-sex partnerships, and now Taipei City follows in Kaohsiung’s footsteps to become the second city in Taiwan to offer same-sex partnership registrations.

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Indian apparel company’s ad is making waves for being the first ever to feature a lesbian couple

In many countries around the world. LGBT rights are an obvious facet of equality, but in many other countries the struggle for progress is very slow going. Take India for example, which still forbids homosexuality by law, and anyone convicted can face up to 10 year of imprisonment with hard labor.

That’s why this short-movie advertisement by apparel company Anouk is grabbing so much attention for its bold decision to include a lesbian couple.

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Japan government hard at work trying to prevent Shibuya Ward approving same-sex marriages

There is less than a week to go before Shibuya Ward in Tokyo will begin issuing marriage certificates to same-sex couples. If all goes as planned, April 1 will be a major milestone for LGBT rights in Japan.

However, in the days leading up to it, Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party has established the “Special Committee to Protect Family Ties” which has just finished a meeting on 25 March to try to find any legal reason not to allow Shibuya’s version of same-sex marriages to go forward.

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Author Naoki Hyakuta’s tweets of politics, perverts, and pleasuring himself spark controversy

Naoki Hyakuta is the writer of hit books such as Monsuta (Monster) and Eien No Zero (Forever Zero) both of which were adapted into films, the latter of which grossed 8.76 billion yen (US$72.5M) at the box office. In 2013 he was appointed to Japan’s public broadcaster NHK’s management committee.

However, after a slightly tumultuous engagement with the high-profile company, Hyakuta stepped down in February this year. Since then he appears to be enjoying his freedom to speak more freely again on Twitter, and as a result he has already irked an impressive number of people in only a few weeks.

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Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward to offer marriage certificates to same-sex couples

Good news today for supporters of same-sex marriage in Japan! Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward is moving towards administering marriage certificates for same-sex couples. If the proposed plan is enacted, it would take effect on April 1 this year, making Shibuya the first ward in Japan to recognize same-sex marriage.

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Edo era Samurai were pretty gay

Recently a Japanese TV program highlighted an interesting bit of historical trivia: The most common type of revenge killing in the Edo period was between gay lovers. It’s a statistic that shocked many viewers in modern Japan, but there is ample evidence to support that a whole lot of gay sex was going on in the country from between 1400 and 1900.

It was at first a playful fancy of the ruling classes but then grew into a cold yet efficiently run military system of battlefield man-pleasuring. However, as we can see from the previously mentioned little factoid, once guys start letting emotions get involved, the whole thing starts to fall apart.

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LDP deems gay rights legislation ‘unnecessary’ according to multi-party survey

A survey conducted by a Japanese LGBT rights organization has been extremely revealing about the main political parties’ attitudes towards sexual minorities, and is something to think about for voters heading to the polls this weekend.

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Historic Kyoto temple first in Japan to offer gay weddings

Gay marriage is still not legal in Japan, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t options for LGBT couples dreaming of tying the knot in Nippon. Joining big venues like Tokyo Disneyland, an ancient Zen temple in the picturesque city of Kyoto is offering gay weddings in traditional Japanese style.

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Monthly “Propaganda” event in Tokyo is a paradise for the trans and crossdressing communities

As another one of those tricky wasei-eigo words, “new half” refers to transsexual individuals and those people who identify more with the opposite gender. A new Japanese term has also established itself within the past several years to denote the same thing–男の娘, which is pronounced as otoko no ko (the usual way to say “boys”) but written with the kanji for otoko no musume (“young women-men”; musume refers to “young ladies” as in the name of the sensational idol group Morning Musume).

Thanks in large part to the prevalence of otoko no ko in popular manga, social media sites, and video games, casual crossdressing events are enjoying a relative boom of popularity in Japan, and nowhere is this phenomenon more visible than at the monthly Propaganda event held in Shinjuku, Tokyo. Best of all, there are no strings attached–everyone is welcome, from professional drag queens to adults just looking to experiment with a different way of having fun! More details after the jump.

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Philippine transgender group fights for rights with handsome posterboy

Even as the gay and lesbian communities experience something of a global revolution in terms of being granted more rights and protection from discrimination, transgender people may be facing a significantly steeper uphill battle. While many of even the most conservative people have come to accept that they may have to share intimate spaces like locker rooms and bathrooms with gays and lesbians, we’re all still squabbling over which bathrooms transgender people should use and which pronoun to call them by.

Discrimination against transgender individuals is particularly fierce in devoutly Catholic Philippines, where hormones – and presumably also surgeries – that are essential to the transgender “transformation” process are routinely denied to those who want them. But the transgender rights group Pinoy Female-to-Male (Pinoy MTF) – composed of naturally born women who identify as male – may have found an ideal spokesmen to help in their fight.

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Hugging, “borrowing” Wi-Fi and 8 other things that can get you arrested in Singapore

Singapore may have a reputation for being an extremely safe and clean country, but there is a good reason for that—very strict laws. The infamous gum ban is just one of the many rules in Singapore designed to keep the city-state tidy and well-behaved. So if you are planning a trip to Singapore (besides perfecting your race-walking skills) you might want to check out some other local laws that are surprisingly stricter compared to other developed countries. Click below to read about 10 laws in Singapore that you should probably follow unless you plan on taking an up close and personal tour of a Singapore jail!

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Osaka ward first governmental body in Japan to officially declare support for LGBT community

Though attitudes towards the LGBT community in Japan are difficult to pin down, it’s not uncommon to find that the average citizen is unaware that such a community even exists. While popular writer and talk-show host Matsuko Deluxe has done a lot to push LGBT issues into the spotlight, there are still many hurdles for sexual minorities in Japan to overcome. However, one municipal government in Osaka is taking charge of the situation by officially declaring their support for the LGBT community!

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This Japanese LGBT Poster Might Be Slightly Biased

The poster you see above was recently shared on Japanese internet message board 2channel and appears to be aimed at raising awareness of sexual minorities among in Japan, with the slogan “love takes many forms” written at the top right corner.

Those of you with a keen eye for detail may have noticed that while the straight and lesbian couples are portrayed as vibrant anime characters with no particularly distinctive features, the gay couple is depicted as a burly mass of stereotype.

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China’s First Public Gay Wedding: One Small Step for LGBT Rights, One Giant Party in the Streets of Fuzhou

Earlier this month, Liu Wangqiang and Lu Zhong, two men in their twenties, celebrated their marriage in the streets of Fuzhou with a few friends and over a thousand assorted well-wishers.  That’s not to say that China is one big Pride Parade by any stretch.

There has been a considerable number of opposing views on China’s Twitter, Weibo and even the Fuzhou government strongly opposed this ceremony.  Adding in the fact that this marriage isn’t legal, it all makes one wonder why anyone would be against these guys.

China and every other East Asian country lacks the Judeo-Christian foundation of Western countries, yet same-sex marriage is, strangely, officially frowned upon.  It’s a mystery that’s always puzzled me since moving to Japan.

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Tokyo Disneyland (TDL) has recently announced that they will offer weddings for same-sex couples, including the option to hold the ceremony at the iconic Cinderella’s castle. It seems that Disney really does make dreams come true, at least for one gay couple. Read More


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