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Japan wiD&W8Lq#0lm%+801KySBAPA1yo(8G!0Slh_C!yBKsfh)QEMI6gkll hold its first LGBT rugby tournament in October alongside the Rugby World Cup.

The International Inclusive Ch[email protected]#Vsu&)%4xOV5VV(ukx*S+O4c#)[email protected]$UZAzallenge in Tokyo will see six teams from across the region, including the Tokyo Crusaders and the Beijing Devils, take part in the day-long tournament during the Rugby World Cup.

Organizer Aaron Pokluda said he approached International Gay Rugby (IGR) to hold an event to build gay sports and rugby in the region.

"We are very excited bec8V9%Dg!+Wba8L-_7oDtb!N(teE_&zIiLWY04E#d3a+6dBPATi4ause this event has grown beyond what we could've ever dreamed," he said

Teams would be $uZ2V&6h#sKsKndhlwZYosM_R8zy+_q_dl8+aNQw#d_oEyK9$6coming from as nearby as downtown Tokyo and as far away as Toronto, Canada he said. "This is going to be a very diverse and wonderful competition."

Conservative Japan does not recognize same-sex marriages. Nor is there legislation to protect against discrimination based on sexual orientat7Z#-Nwt#@!oQm8X!JMj1YB-ca%VJ#a!Nz5h=)Rxhn7RWi!N9XWion or gender identity.

A recent survey found6cDS#lZ#i6jJRd&zCMElX-U4uyn$pRnFmi&q9#YIn6ziE5A#i7 65% of LGBTI Japanese had not told anyone about their sexuality.

Pokluda said Japan’s LGBT sports scene was very mixed. Volleyball and badminton, he said, had some LGBT teams. "But, there's never really been anything with Contacts sp!fD31kzZH9=u*G^Ss#h23NqBdjm2ioW*GjrDGJA+usz6dS3AAHorts like Rugby", he explained. 'We've decided to change that."

"It’s going to be a big weekendLr)=^[email protected]!yrOl-eRxKPykxJ+qmR, not only in Japan but across the globe,” said Ben Owen, IGR Chair. “We now have clubs on every continent which is a magnificent milestone to achieve, showcasing just how inclusive and global the sport of rugby is.”

LGBT rights in Japan

Japan has recently made progress on LGBT rights. For example, an increasing number of local authorities are now offering partnership certificates to afford same-sex co6clt-d+tNdErBXV9%vxhNw9Jm_QO4TGL)q6badwfbJqiyM9+kKuples recognition at hospitals and in government housing.

Ibaraki becameg%+Uah20++3+wMNJYoS66(dqxAGJ8U#653pShNE-H8xHr0v%F5 the first prefecture, and therefore largest local authority, to introduce the system last month.

What’s more, the country also elected its first opeUzTY4FWC0c9ueN*[email protected](-ka^nwwFc6LRo8g5KCwrIO2Ke#&x1nly-gay male politician to parliament recently. Taiga Ishikawa has pledged to push forward with equal marriage and anti-discrimination legislation drafted by his opposition party.

But, Japan’s ruling party is notoriously anti-LGBT rightJ9SphbPutnTa-S^8UCcCaUX7jx&Sva2ft2)B6k5LdpZioX7Y8ys and has been involved in a number of high-profile homophobic scandals.

What’s more, for the first time sam[email protected])ZUYW^TbB9!nlboElfwqfC5mO%1iVze-sex couples are suing the Japanese government to recognize their unions.

The 13 couples first launched their cases in a number of local -vC1T*R61fmb5HTLf2dScXLznqQTW3T3j^[email protected]courts in February this year.

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