Japan is the only member of G7 (a group consisting of the most industrialized countries in the world, composed of Germany, Canada, United States, France, Italy, Japan and United Kingdom) that still doesn’t recognize homoaffective marriages, which has caused difficulties for couples to rent an apartment or have basic rights.
“Many people might think that Japan is a human rights defender, but actually there are no laws to protect LGBTQ people. Society is filled with prejudice, discrimination and harassment towards LGBTQ community”, says a press release statement released in September on Pride House’s website.
During the Olympics, since the Vancouver Winter Games, in Canada, in 2010, a “Pride House” has been opened on a temporary basis in order to support LGBT athletes. In Tokyo, Pride House would open in 2021, but the plans have changed after a survey pointed out urgency to supporting young people from the LGBTQIA+ community.
The institution was inaugurated on Sunday, October 11, the date on which “Coming Out Day” is celebrated, and it will work on a permanent basis in the country. “Japan, not just in sporting circles but society as a whole, including schools and workplaces, is not friendly to LGBTQ people, and it is hard to come out”, Gon Matsunaka, who heads the project behind Pride House, told AFP.
The athlete Fumino Sugiyama, 39, one of the founders of the institution on the country, reveals that when he fenced, it “was unthinkable to come out in the sports community”, since it was a really homophobic environment. “I faced a dilemma between trying to do the sport I love, where I can’t be myself, or trying to be myself and having to stop fencing”, Sugiyama remembers.
In addition to promoting tolerance and supporting the LGBTI community to play sports, Pride House also aims to raise the public’s awareness about sexual diversity, make a breakthrough regarding LGBTQIA+ issues in Japan and provide shelter to victims of harassment or discrimination.