Japan: Government district in Osaka becomes first to support LGBT human rights

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A local government ward in the city of Osaka has become the first Japanese district to officially support LGBT human rights.

Yodogawa ward, one of 24 wards in Osaka, passed a resolution recently after a consultation with residents on LGBT issues, including Hiroko and Koyuki Higashi, who were the first gay couple to get married at Tokyo Disney in March.

The resolution reads: “In order to make this city a livable place for a diversity of people, Yodogawa Ward respects the human rights of LGBT people.

“Therefore, we will carry out staff human rights training in regards to the LGBT community; disperse accurate information about the LGBT community; support the activities of the LGBT community (and) listen to the voices of the LGBT community.”

Yodogawa ward, in northern Osaka, is home to around 170,000 residents.

In Japan, same-sex couples are not recognised by law, and LGBT people do not have protection from discrimination. Some cities have passed their own anti-discrimination laws covering sexual orientation however.

Thousands marched in Tokyo in April this year as Japan kicked off its first Rainbow Week, which aimed to reach out to LGBT people in the country.

Organiser Hiroko Masuhara said: ”This is our first attempt to link up with many groups” of sexual minorities. ”The parade is a symbolic event in the Rainbow Week programme.”

Disneyland became an unlikely champion of gay rights in Japan last year, by allowing same-sex couples to marry on its premises, even though same-sex relationships have no legal recognition in the country.