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Brides Celebrate Japans First Celebrity Same-Sex Marriage

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The first celebrity lesbian wedding was held in Japan, Tokoy this weekend. Former Gravure model and television personality Ayaka Ichinose (34) and actress Akane Sugimori (28) got married in a symbolic ceremony on Sunday amid growing calls for Japan to legalise gay marriage.

While their marriage will not be recognised under law, actresses – both dressed in white – tied the knot in front of some 80 relatives and friends.

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Sugimori told press after the ceremony in Shinjuku ward.

We held the wedding ceremony so that it might become easier for others to do the same in the future.”

Akane Sugimori

She said they would try to register their marriage with the municipal office, but expected their application to be rejected.

Ichinose came out as a lesbian in 2009, and met Sugimori at a gay bar in Shinjuku, Tokyo in October 2012.

We hope gay people will also be able to marry in Japan, and hope our wedding can help promote this goal.’

Ayaka Ichinose

Japan has a rich gay history, but LGBT rights get short shrift in the mainstream media. Japan’s views on homosexuality are a complex one. Despite artistic cultural exports that shows Japan as being a socially progressive society in regards to gender and sexual expression, the country still struggles with broad legislation that would ensure LGBT equality.

Last month, a Tokyo council voted to issue “partnership” certificates to gay couples, the first such recognition of same-sex unions in Japan. Other municipalities are now considering doing the same.

The certificate will carry only symbolic significance, since the Japanese constitution identifies marriage as a union based on mutual consent of the parties from “both sexes”.

Ichinose said she was ‘very pleased’ by the move and was considering moving to the ward, but she noted that as the certificates are effective only in Shibuya, there would not be many cases in which they would be useful.

Two other districts and one city are now considering similar measures.

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