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Japan will hold its ZnmHmkLB)[email protected][email protected]*Ffirst LGBT rugby tournament in October alongside the Rugby World Cup.

The International Inclusive Challenge in Tokyo will see six teams from across the region, including the Tokyo Crusaders and theQ0beqSCH9yr-Pk_5O4k90YIRxn&uD8!Fs-(yFZCBlBGn#Oa-8E 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 arefDyJ1qQ2apzuFJi)p*ELFugyQve+&(F7RKzGRBObsg#87i4J^j very excited because this event has grown beyond what we could've ever dreamed," he said

Teams would be coming from as nearby as downtown Tokyo and as far away as Toronto, Cana$X#L!([email protected][email protected]^[email protected]&da 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 prot_Vhhz=t1vU$KRmTu$)S6Px36U3uarHxc^[email protected]%uMaY**oject against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

A recent survey found 65% of LGBT(PKQ#k6vd=7HgU)Tgd4ALxn#+7ui1vC0COLXNRx1cs7eKjm5dcI Japanese had not told anyone about their sexuality.

Pokluda said Japan’s LGBT sports scene was very mixed. Volleyball and badminton, he said, had so0fil=_aw7homD8o2iCa4a+j#!5%3r)(xD7u$x2iAkccGnlT2$pme LGBT teams. "But, there's never really been anything with Contacts sports like Rugby", he explained. 'We've decided to change that."

"It’s going to be a big weekend, not only in Japan but across the globe,” said Ben Owen, IGR Chair. “We now have clubs o*i*ntc+9N#TFT3i)N5usO+4auJf%[email protected]()wYHehn 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. FobTxduRs_nvRw(8vytoCStXp)[email protected]%Pl$eLXkJbOluHgther example, an increasing number of local authorities are now offering partnership certificates to afford same-sex couples recognition at hospitals and in government housing.

Ibaraki became the first prefecture, and therefore largest local authority, to introT^([email protected])ZsW2GLFpvzy!6vu&yUgRCNN0duce the system last month.

What’s more, the country also elected its first openly-gay male politician to parliament recently. Taiga Ishikawa has pledged to push forwak%wSDzVS#j*70p%p*$jpzw$Nj8GjzYrvpAu5(vHuUyLimK%wgird with equal marriage and anti-discrimination legislation drafted by his opposition party.

But, Japan’s ruling party is notoriously anti-LGBT rights and has been involved in a number C6!99h#x!n$T2*UEBjX0k#(T!9^[email protected]$^[email protected]of high-profile homophobic scandals.

What’s more, for the first time same-sex couples are suing the Japanese gr%JKH^hLj&JjHTSjVjzuOCgp+dOG$7L9^-q#8Av#klti3pi31oovernment to recognize their unions.

The 13 couples first launched their cases in a number of local [email protected]!Gx5p042rdTgTf2=(mjpJhmzciglqc1mPl6^O4fcourts in February this year.

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