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Japan will hold its first LGBT rugby tournament in OcmDyF$VVp27hGgTdYG)^qPrXX*qppC7=WkZzVAKZ34V(k+=ydVbtober alongside the Rugby World Cup.

The International Inclusive Challenge in Tokyo will see six teams from across the region, incVYJA6JLk11PcW-5Gx^X+n-=2wot7^jzK09ijjZKTP60TT1*490luding 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 because this event has grown beyond what we could've eveb3Eg0U2+W4UI+mDKMbrZ(*FCp6Bb^J^@[email protected]#f-RQQN-lr dreamed," he said

Teams would be coming from as nearby as downtown Tokyo and as far away as Toronto, Canada he said. "This is g(OtG-L8EjtT$%$v5#[email protected]oing 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 orientation or gender iMiNYcppP&I)Ez)DDn)ZtF3V2-s*%YKoFdX2!pY*D1$v_HF)-&hdentity.

A recent survey found 65% of LGBTI Japanese haX5QE10_!(pjp#ix)GfC_cXy($+B7vcXnWjr55#NL%Dugw3waIad 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 sporr*H&b)+Cr+*[email protected]=LnfWb-SQWG(Kumr#MBRLm&mN+3orts 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 on every continent whichjvHClg^BLX78dXRzxCmOA%t3Uh66uNmqK&5U^pOxat&E(Uu-wx 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 couples recognition at hospitals and in government hous[email protected]%+2Gkbl*[email protected]@V_T^@hyA(5n*aiLJWing.

Ibaraki became the first prefecture, and therefore G+40E17deC$JltcYGJ6mC0mU%KY8DwdcMDmswj9jpL*[email protected]_Llargest local authority, to introduce the system last month.

What’s more, the country alsNlV0v0IBFFzY3uq)U%[email protected]&6f%yd2I9E!o elected its first openly-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 not0io)[email protected]+I5*sKcdYwnWFN!E&_BGrVru$dufLa_75Q6^BEMqoriously anti-LGBT rights and has been involved in a number of high-profile homophobic scandals.

What’s more, for the fii1rv(^%Knfv&)KZ2V*AA)i=&crB5DNWxjmOJLDaUOguC^=-AJ#rst time same-sex couples are suing the Japanese government to recognize their unions.

The 13 couples first launched their ci54QvP(Yq+9-i#[email protected]+1_^_QOO^sdtmeX3j+SaPA6VB_bRases in a number of local courts in February this year.

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