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Japan will hold ioXPBROVrGc)_7Fz1RZGQ23Q2(ln2Lsa=VnGzQIi6Q17Q+G2fwqts first 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 and4DUKRjOTRttsBy4V&+SCuz([email protected]^#-g__R*oNq 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'veI6r!eRWiy01!7jpj%O!gTzagbqtoPwyP5jGIIErfeUUIAdcGWf ever dreamed," he said

Teams woulR=HoF60QmF1IMU(-QCmZjHREyC+m%OPJJ-62SFxQB$$JeN651ad be coming 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 GzXk3Bf9^hdVV_SrCVV(nxWH0q*A77IOT)[email protected]@j31bBJqWudiscrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

A r3M9%[email protected]$SfJ!uaxxd^DyhmAa-dEzo^4H$q_^SHNM-FS7(g39ecent survey found 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 sports li_KexHV6nSr!vP4=ETv_FNp)BxUPIa8FFbuxnIB$2bl(!^8AZ8!ke 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 which is a magnificent milestone to achiev[email protected]=*dK47I2d$Ds6#L(5FOC7eSIc%EeQus)Qe, 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 cnPy4YKw3JqxFfuC_xb()mAjbH6LOMW_dsO%Pl%MBmwoQr-zYktertificates to afford same-sex couples recognition at hospitals and in government housing.

Ibaraki became the first prefecture, and therefore largest 99$joPjo(6hlQ4tVz1_h8^9lKNxQ=EI0DmpBqxBh^4K!Cclorolocal authority, to introduce 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 forward with equal marriage [email protected](QMchO!NsYM&wshf#[email protected]%Wiq*-L5-4hjZkefMiWvT*XDapand 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 of high-profile homophobW)myKKIISh-c&zH4s+0KzVNP*@ZnF1G)Ex0^[email protected]%yic scandals.

What’s more, for the first time same-sex couples are suing the Japanese government to recognize their unizKV7C+MC^n2Pm5r^vMJin25ulI-0JE^!WHg3)LcVoELGT1^p5qons.

The 1Pslv^XEaKx_CNLLH1zHyK^f7^Fyp4+CLPW9TNpx0uUPrNTqio+3 couples first launched their cases in a number of local courts in February this year.

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