Gay Tokyo conveniently packed into a handful of streets all located Shinjuku Ni-Chome (pronounced nee-chomay). Ni Chome the gay center of Tokyo has over 300 gay bars, clubs, saunas, cruise clubs and everything else small packed into a couple of small blocks in the center of Tokyo. The Shinjuku neighbourhood is mixed with big business, shopping and entertainment and of course Tokyo’s gay center.
Vibrant, crowded and undeniably unique, Tokyo is the world’s largest metropolis, with over 37 million people. Its described as one of the world’s three economic command centers, along with New York and London. A business center with more Michelin stars than other city and cultural capital, Tokyo is a must see world destination.
Across Japan, there are no laws against homosexuality or same-sex intercourse however there is no countrywide legal recognition of same-sex marriage or partnership. Some cities including Tokyo offer same-sex partnership certificates, however, none hold any legal weight. Throughout the ages Japan has no history of hostility towards gay men and Japanese culture is often described as ‘ignoring rather than accepting’ LGBT individuals.
With an ancient history of gay sex and no religious hostility towards homosexuality, one could imagine Japan would be at the forefront of LGBT rights. Same sex sexual activity has been legal for over 130 years yet LGBT individuals and couples maybe face legal challenges and lack the same legal protections given to couples of the opposite sex and non-LGBT individuals.
Same sex marriage is not legal in Japan however some cities such as Tokyo have legalized same-sex partnerships, providing some marriage benefits.
Dating back for thousands of years, Japanese arts and books of culture describe with clarity records of men sleeping with men. Same sex activities were recorded across all of Japanese society from Samurais to Monks and even Emperors, who were described having homosexual relationships.
In recent times polls indicate that the majority of Japanese citizens favour accepting homosexuality into society (Pew Research, 2013). Although this has not translated into mainstream politics as most political parties neither openly support or oppose LGBT rights. As such, discrimination based on sexual orientation differs between cities and regions across Japan.
Tokyo Rainbow Pride was set up in 2011 and is part of Rainbow Week, a series of LGBT events to raise awareness of LGBT rights in Japan, usually taking place in May. The number of attendees rises every year with 70,000 participants visiting the festival in 2016.
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