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Marriage equality, in a small world after all

Koyuki Higashi (L) and her partner Hiroko (R) display
Koyuki Higashi (L) and her partner Hiroko (R) displayKoyuki Higashi / AFP - Getty Images

Japan may say "nay" to same-sex marriage, but that isn't stopping Tokyo Disneyland. This week, Mickey and friends announced it would allow same-sex couples to hold ceremonies on its ground, even though their marriages wouldn't be legally recognized in Japan.

The Taipei Times reports that Tokyo Disneyland came to their decision after a woman inquired about marrying her female partner at the theme park's resort. Koyuki Higashi and her partner were told they could have their wedding at the Tokyo Disney Resort, but would not be able to exchange vows in the chapel because of Christian teachings.

Although same-sex marriage is not legal in Japan, the Taipei Times report also notes that the LGBT community in Tokyo is growing:

Disneyland’s stance was a rare sign of progress in a country still uncertain about its attitude towards homosexuality. There are no laws against homosexuality, and Tokyo is home to a large lesbian gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) population, many of whom took part in the capital’s first rainbow pride event last month.

Gay and transgender celebrities are regulars on TV variety shows, while Taiga Ishikawa became Japan’s first openly gay politician when he won a seat in Tokyo’s Toshima ward assembly in April last year.

Japan's constitution explicitly states that marriage is based on "the mutual consent of both sexes," implying the genders of both people involved in the union must be different. There has been little effort inside the country to legalize same-sex marriage, although the deputy head abbot of a temple in Kyoto announced last June that the temple would perform same-sex marriage ceremonies as part of Gay and Lesbian Pride Month.

Higashi and her partner have yet to set a date for their wedding, but took no time to celebrate at Disneyland first. "Mickey first looked surprised to hear that we are a couple of girls,” Higashi wrote on her blog. "But we said we were there to thank him...and he celebrated with us."