U.S. envoy to Japan set to attend Rainbow Pride parade to highlight LGBT rights

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U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel has said it is important to accept people of other sexual orientations and will attend Sunday’s Rainbow Parade in Tokyo to drive home the point.

The ambassador, who has also worked to promote marriage equality in his own country, said that gay and lesbian people should be acknowledged as part of an inclusive society.

“Our goal is building a society where everybody feels valued, everybody feels like they count, everybody feels like they can be a responsible member of the community,” he said.

“You have two people who love each other, two people who are ready to make a commitment to create a home of love,” he said Friday. “I think that is a very traditional value. It’s not radical.”

Emanuel said there are many people in the LGBTQ community who are family members and contribute to society in various roles, noting that “sexual orientation is just part of their identity.”

By speaking at the march as an ambassador, Emanuel said he wants to stress what the U.S. values — “the values of inclusion, and creating a larger family and a sense of community. Everyone has something to contribute.”

Japan has not permitted marriage equality yet, but more than 140 municipal governments have introduced a system to recognize same-sex partnerships in a bid to reverse discrimination on issues such as social benefits.

Emanuel welcomed this, saying that although the pace is different than in the United States, the trajectory toward same-sex recognition and equality is the same.

Similar to the United States, he expects there will be a bottom-up change in politics, with local governments taking the first step toward same-sex recognition.

“Japan is at the stage of doing that bottom-up political change … and it will be felt nationally,” he said.

While serving as mayor of Chicago, Emanuel pushed to legalize same-sex marriage in the state of Illinois in 2013. It became U.S. law when the Supreme Court ruled it a constitutional right in 2015.

“I envision a day in which we don’t talk about gay marriage and straight marriage,” he said. “There’s marriage. And that’s sufficient.”

Emanuel’s defense of LGBTQ rights overseas is in line with President Joe Biden’s fierce support for the community.

On his first day as president in January last year, Biden signed an executive order protecting LGBTQ people against discrimination in schools, health care, the workplace and other sectors.

A new State Department post to advance the human rights of LGBTQ people was also created.

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