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Japanese lesbian couple to ‘wed’ in all 26 countries with marriage equality

Josh Jackman January 4, 2019
Lesbian couple Misato Kawasaki and Mayu Otaki, who live in Japan where there is no marriage equality for LGBT people

Mayu Otaki (left) and Misato Kawasaki (right) are travelling the world to protest Japanese laws (faavo)

A Japanese lesbian couple is planning to visit all 26 countries where same-sex marriage is legal to protest their nation’s lack of marriage equality.

University students Misato Kawasaki, 21, and Mayu Otaki, 22, clarified in a statement to PinkNews that they are not planning to actually get married 26 times, but simply take wedding photos in each destination.

“This project is not about our wedding but revealing a social issue by taking a wedding photos and share them on a instagram,” they said.

The couple hope that the photos, published on their blog and social media channels along with other content from the six-month trip, will convince the public that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry in Japan.

“I want to show through our wedding photos that being LGBT is normal”

— Misato Kawasaki

Kawasaki, who studies alongside Otaki at Utsunomiya University’s Faculty of International Studies, told Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shimbun she wanted “to show through our wedding photos that being lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) is normal so that those who are troubled by their sexual status can harbour hope.”

Several months after they started dating in late 2017, Kawasaki proposed to Otaki, asking her: “Will you stay with me forever?”

Lesbian couple Mayu Otaki (right) and Misato Kawasaki (left) pose for a wedding photo in Japan
The lesbian pair has held a ceremonial wedding in Japan that wasn’t legal (faavo)

She said that she had wanted to pose the classic question, asking her partner: “Will you marry me?”

But despite queer unions being recognised in some areas of the country, there is no recognition of same-sex marriage on a national level in Japan, meaning that she felt unable to ask Otaki to marry her.

The lesbian couple aren’t the only LGBT+ people campaigning for the country to recognise marriage equality. 10 LGBT+ couples plan on filing a lawsuit against the Japanese government in February in a bid for recognition.

Lesbian pair has raised thousands for campaign

Kawasaki and Otaki, who want to establish a wedding company in Japan for same-sex partners when they get back, are crowdfunding to afford their tour.

They will land in the UK in March before travelling through Europe, Africa, North America and South America.

They estimate that just the transport and accommodation costs alone will cost them 4.14 million yen (£30,000), and are trying to raise a million yen (£7,300) to help subsidise their journey.

So far, they’ve raised around a third of the total.

The lesbian students become activists

The women said they were both aware of their sexualities during high school.

But Kawasaki revealed that she steered clear of getting romantically involved with girls at school because she thought that would mean she was “abnormal.”

She only felt comfortable enough to come out as a lesbian after she started studying at university.

Like her partner, Otaki knew she was attracted to other girls when she was in school. She realised she was pansexual and came out after she starting dating Kawasaki.

This campaign, they said, was intended to make life easier for other queer people and couples struggling with their identities.

With this in mind, the pair plans to interview other Japanese same-sex partners, as well as government officials in the countries they visit, so that they can put together a project on their return which will make the case for marriage equality.

This article was updated to clarify that the couple will not marry in 26 countries as originally reported in the Asahi Shimbun, but will take part in wedding photoshoots instead. 

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