Yoyogi Park was showered in rainbow on Saturday and Sunday to celebrate the LGBT community in the greater Tokyo area. It is called the Tokyo Rainbow Parade. The 9-hour event mainly consists of a 3 km parade.
It came at an important time when the bullying culture in Japanese schools is under close scrutinization for being exceptionally harsh on the LGBT students. It highlights only one of the many reasons why the organizers deem it necessary and important to host such events. Yet, this parade is just one of the many events that take place each year during the Tokyo Rainbow Pride week.
Thus, from April 29 to May 8th
many fun events are held across the city that increase awareness of the LGBT community. According to the organizers’ website, 35,000 people are expected to participate this year to celebrate the LGBT week in. The whole point of this parade is to bring in people from all across Tokyo and spread the awareness. Their argument is that even if only 100 people share their stories, pictures, and videos on social media, it will create a chain reaction and get people talking. The more exposure this community has, the more people will see the beauty of the LGBT community. It will play a key role in significantly decrease casual homophobia.
It is very interesting to know that Japanese history shows a very tolerant attitude towards homosexuality. In fact, there are documents telling us of samurais having male lovers. Same sex relationships have also been depicted in Japanese arts such as wood block prints, paintings, and dramas. Yet, there has been a huge shift since the feudal period in Japan.In schools, it is exceptionally brutal for these students. There is actually a Japanese proverb that is popular when talking about the LGBT community. There are two versions of this proverb and both essentially say that if you stand out for whatever reason, you will be subjected to criticism. As a result, these LGBT students are not protected enough. Support from the teachers and the government is very limited for these students. For example, although government has made many laws to tone down the brutal bullying that happens in many Japanese schools, these laws do not specify the manner of treatment for LGBT students. Moreover, one factor that somehow stayed consistent is the discrimination of lesbians. While gay men are thought to be funny people on TV, lesbians have it harder on them. They are rarely portrayed on the media. Below is an example of how a LGBT student may be verbally harassed by a teacher, shown by a manga released by Human Rights Watch (HRW).
Today, tremendous progress has been made to improve the lives of many LGBT individuals in Japan. The Shibuya municipal government took the first step in 2015 by issuing its first same-sex marriage certificate. Other municipal governments have followed that. There is no doubt that students in schools have it difficult. Once you go past that, it becomes much easier. In fact, it is easier to live in Japan as a LGBT than in the United States. People mostly mind their own business. They are nice and there is no doubt that, violence is close to zero here in Tokyo. In the states, you may have people protesting outside your house or in your community. However, that is impossible to do so in Japan. This makes it safer for anyone for matter to live in Japan. Lastly, the first lady of Japan openly supported the parade in 2014, which shows how much Japan is progressing.
The problem of discrimination against LGBT community is present in many countries in the world. Japan is no different. Yet, the progress rate for the LGBT community is improving rapidly here. With the Olympics Games on the horizon, there is no doubt that LGBT community here will see big improvements in protection against discrimination.by Khalid Saifullah