Tokyo Pride to return after three years

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The Japanese capital’s gay community and friends are preparing to party this Saturday as Tokyo Pride takes place once again after a three-year absence.

In the run up to the celebrations, the local gay community have been holding debates and there have been political theatre shows aimed at fostering a wider understanding of LGBT lifestyles in Japan.

The parade has not taken place for the last three years owing to a lack of organisational staff. Many LGBT Japanese people are apparently put off by pressure from the more conservative elements of the country’s traditional, family-oriented society. This may not be apparent to outsiders, as Japan is often portrayed as a country with a very youth-centric culture, plus a strong kitsch aesthetic.

Tokyo’s Shinjuku district, which houses some 250 gay and lesbian bars, is to host the celebrations. After Saturday’s parade, there will be a “Rainbow Festival” with food and beer stalls. There will also be a debate on the future of the gay rights movement in Japan.

Since March 2009, Japanese nationals have been permitted to wed their same-sex foreign partners – but only in countries where same-sex marriage is permitted.