It’s Not a Crime to Be Gay in Japan. But Does That Mean They’re Embracing Us?

“Japan’s legal system does not ban or regulate one’s sexual orientation. But marriage is allowed only between a man and a woman. Although courts nowadays examine the details of civil or common-law marriages for heterosexual couples, including shared assets and duration of relationships, they give no such consideration to gays and lesbians. There are a few gay spots or hangouts across Japan, mainly in big cities. The district known as Shinjuku 2-chome in central Tokyo is the most famous. It houses a few hundred gay bars and stores, making itself known as the hub of gay subculture. ‘Unlike in some countries, gays and lesbians in Japan do not get a death penalty or get punished in a court. But that does not necessarily mean the country is friendly toward the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community,’ said Kanako Otsuji, an LGBT rights activist in Japan, whose office sits in the middle of Shinjuku 2-chome. … If people saw two women or men holding hands, they usually will not go up to them and beat them up. But that does not mean people have no feelings toward us.'” [ABC News]