Monday, December 8, 2014

Social Progress in Conservative Japan

In the news today, Shunkoin Temple, a historic Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, has publicly announced that it offers LGBT wedding ceremonies. It is the first temple in Japan to do so, at least in so public a fashion.

As the article points out, gay marriage is not legal in Japan. And homosexuality is an issue that has not yet come to the fore in domestic politics. Japanese anti-discrimination laws do not specifically protect the LGBT community and the UN has raised concerns earlier this year about the current state of legal protections available to the LGBT community in Japan. Although Tokyo has a gay district and although there is almost certainly a vibrant gay community, in the 10+ months that I have been here, I have seen less than a handful of openly gay couples, and in conversations with Japanese people, I have been shocked by how foreign (both literally and figuratively) the concept of homosexuality is to so many here.

Kudos to Shunkoin Temple for coming out in strong support of progress:

“Shunkoin Temple is against any forms of ‘Human Rights Violations’ in the world. No religion teaches how to hate others. Religion teaches how to love and respect others.”

Read more here:

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