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Same-Sex Marriage banned in Japan but this Buddhist Priest Will Still Marry You

Buddhism same-sex

Buddhist Priest Zenryu Kawakami has made Shunkoin Temple is a safe haven for same-sex marriage in Japan.

Same-sex marriage has become a hotbed for debate over recent years, with government and religious institutions taking a different stance on the issue. The arguments as to why there should be no same-sex marriage are based on the morality of society. Religious institutions argue that same-sex marriage is wrong according to religious studies.

Same-Sex Marriage banned in Japan but this Buddhist Priest Will Still Marry You[/tweetthis]

For Buddhists, however, same-sex marriage has never occurred as an issue to raise discussion as it centers its teachings on a personal level of seeking truth and what is just.

According to Christians, marriage is a holy union that God himself ordained. It is a covenant between man and woman meant for procreation and unity of the family. To them, same-sex corrupts the morals of the society hence it is unacceptable.

From, the government point of view (those states who have accepted the practice), denying minority groups the right to have same-sex marriage is infringing their rights. However, those governments and countries who have not accepted same-sex marriage also cite the morality of the society and the religious reasons.

Japan as a country does not allow same-sex marriage. The shocking statistics of 7% Japanese population who by nature are LGBT raises the concern as to whether or not to change the situation.

Deputy Head Priest Zenryu Kawakami of Shunkoin Temple holds same-sex marriage ceremonies at his temple anyway.

At first, for personal reasons, Kawakami did not advocate for same-sex marriage. In fact, he was very biased towards LGBT groups. When he was younger, he noticed a gay person in a café, and made a derogatory remark towards the individual. His friend’s response was “I'm gay, too. Is that the way you feel about me, Taka?” It is at this point he realizes that his prejudice was not based on any profound argument.

The moment was a tipping point for him. "Especially because I had been the victim of prejudice myself, I felt terrible shame, and I completely changed my position. As I changed, my friends began to open up to me about the fact that they were gay or lesbian."

Buddhism has been for the most part neutral on the question of homosexuality. Zenryu Kawakami looks the issue of same-sex marriage as a discriminatory issue based on no good reason. When a woman from Spain asked to be married at the temple, he quickly said yes. When she elaborated, the other person is a woman he stuck to his word and agreed to hosting the ceremony.

Kawakami acknowledges that the Japanese government and society’s views on same-sex marriage have not been influenced in the same ways as the West has. They do not have pressure from Christian conservatives, however, the Japanese feel pressure to conform, which makes life more difficult as an “other,” an LGBT person, when the majority of the society identifies as heterosexual.

Kawakami lets the temple become a safe haven for the minority group by giving them a chance to get married without being discriminated.

The religious studies in Buddhism are far much different from those in Christianity and Islam or any other religious group. The uniqueness of each group is what makes it different from each other. Every religion, however, has a right to enlighten its congregation according to its way.

What Kawakami does is merely exercising what is right according to the studies of Buddhism. Although other groups may reject the teachings, what is clear is that religion should allow people to be fair with how they deal with other people despite their personal views on marriage.


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