Fri, Jan 11, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Lesbian couple to stage 26 mock weddings

Thomson Reuters Foundation, LONDON

A Japanese lesbian couple plan to stage wedding photographs in every country where same-sex marriage is legal in a push to increase understanding of LGBT communities at home, they said on Wednesday.

Students Misato Kawasaki, 21, and Mayu Otaki, 22, hope to give other LGBT people confidence in their identity and raise awareness of issues such as the lack of equal marriage in Japan.

“Through this project, I want to cheer up a lot of people that there is nothing to be ashamed of just because you are a sexual minority,” Otaki told reporters. “It is important to speak out, but unless many people take an interest, then I do not think society will change.”

Japan’s laws on LGBT issues are relatively liberal compared with many Asian countries, with homosexual sex legal since 1880, but being openly gay remains largely taboo.

Same-sex marriage is not legal, although in some areas gay couples can get a certificate that allows them similar rights to married couples.

Kawasaki had struggled with her feelings for women, initially believing it was the “natural course” to be attracted to boys, she wrote on a fundraising page for the project.

“Even now, it is hard to come out as a lesbian to friends who don’t know our project. That is because I am scared to find out what the other person thinks,” she said. “However, once I started coming out, it got better because I no longer had to lie to myself or my friends.”

The couple, who are students at Utsunomiya University, decided to travel to all 25 countries worldwide with marriage equality in a bid to increase awareness over the lack of equal marriage.

At the end of last year, 25 nations recognized same-sex marriage, according to International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) data, up from 24 the previous year.

Their “26 times wedding” project is to take them to countries including Argentina, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and Iceland, and they are also to visit Taiwan for a 26th “ceremony.”

At each stop the two are to stage mock wedding photos, which are to be posted on social media, and carry out interviews with local LGBT campaigners and experts.

The couple only has about 1,000 followers on Instagram so far, but has been the subject of numerous press stories.

“At the moment, LGBTQ people are not familiar to the Japanese, so we would like different people to look at the wedding photos we take and put on Instagram, and then think about the issue,” Kawasaki said.

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