Japan: Lesbian pair are first same-sex couple to get married in Tokyo Disney

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An LGBT blogger and her partner became the first gay couple to get married at Tokyo Disney last Friday, undeterred by a lack of legal recognition for same-sex partnerships in Japan.

Koyuki Higashi, 28, married her partner of one and a half years, who is only identified by the name Hiroko, in a Christian-style ceremony attended by park employees dressed as Mickey and Minnie Mouse, along with 30 friends.

The two brides both wore white dresses, despite an earlier statement from the park that had suggested one of them would have to opt for a suit.

“My love Hiroko and I wore wedding dresses and had a mini-parade in DisneySea, a place I also love,” Ms Higashi tweeted after the event.

She had been blogging about the wedding since May 2012, when she first enquired to Tokyo Disney about the possibility of marrying Hiroko there. Ms Higashi had been a stage actress before turning to a career in LGBT rights.

Tokyo Disney responded that it would allow gay couples to hold weddings in its grounds, following a Walt Disney Company policy that has been in place since 2007.

The marriage does not have any legal recognition in Japan but the couple were not deterred from having the ceremony.

“We may not have a law that applies to us, but when someone congratulates us for the wedding, I will proudly say ‘thank you!'”, Ms Higashi declared.

Hiroko, who keeps her surname secret because of family members who do not accept her sexuality, said she hoped people would see a deeper meaning behind the ceremony.

“This could prompt Japan to question why it so often ignores or discriminates against minorities,” she said. “Mostly we just want people to know that gay people exist for real, and we would like to throw weddings like everyone else.”

Ms Higashi wrote on her blog in May 2012 that she was originally told that the ceremony would only be possible if they were dressed ‘like a man and a woman.’ However, the Tokyo Disney Resort eventually confirmed that this was a misunderstanding, and that same-sex couples were welcome to have ceremonies at the resort, although not in the chapel due to what they described as “Christian teachings.”

In a country where homosexuality is still a taboo, and saw its first openly gay politician elected last year, the wedding was greeted with enthusiasm by local gay people and activists.

Gay porn star Masaki Koh tweeted ms Higashi to say: “Your wonderful wedding will bring inspiration and hope to many people who still hesitate to take the first step. I was also encouraged that Tokyo Disney Resort was so understanding.”