Remember the name: Pride Houses are about to bring LGTBQ+ awareness to an entirely new level.
As the world looks to find out how Japan will host the Olympics in 2021 during COVID-19, they are also eying another unprecedented development. Tokyo will open its first Pride House, a temporary location to host LGTBQ+ athletes and to raise awareness about LGBTQ+ rights.
"Pride House Tokyo aims to educate the world and also Japan of the difficulties the LGBTQ community has playing and enjoying sports ... while helping create a safe space for the community too," Pride House Tokyo said in a statement on Monday.
The concept, which was started in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, has gained popularity through the years, but this year something changed. For the first time, it has received official backing from the International Olympic Committee, hence legitimizing the program as one which is here to stay.
That has enormous implications. It means that LGBTQ+ rights will be at the center of the Olympics, a prestigious competition that has been used as an international platform to speak on some of the most important issues through the 20th century, including Civil Rights in the 1960s. Now, as violence and discrimination continue to increase in so many parts of the world, the backing of the International Olympic Committee in supporting Pride Houses will send a clear message to the world.
But before spreading awareness to the rest of the world, Japanese human rights workers are trying to fix Japan’s own problems with its LGBTQ+ rights.
Aging Yells, one of the organizations which supports the Pride House, has called out Japan for being behind other developed nations in LGBTQ+ rights.
"Many people might think that Japan is a human rights defender, but actually there are no laws to protect LGBTQ people," said the head of the organization Gon Matsunaka.
"Society is filled with prejudice, discrimination and harassment towards LGBTQ community. While we have to change the sports arena, we also hope Pride House Legacy can help change society as a whole as well."
Besides advocating for LGBTQ+ rights, Pride Houses advocate for something much deeper: Pride. It shouldn’t be enough just to live. Members of the LGBTQ+, whether they are competing or spectators, should be proud of who they are. This is why it is so crucial that we keep on making progress for LGBTQ+ awareness and rights all across the world.