Temple in Japan conducts marriages for same-sex couples

The Shunkoin Temple in Kyoto has become the first Zen-Buddhist temple in Japan to officially offer marriages for same-sex couples. The temple is welcoming every couple regardless of religion or sexual orientation.

"It’s not like we have to keep tradition the way it is,” Takafumi Kawakami, a priest at the Shunkoin Temple said in an interview with CNN. “We welcome every couple regardless of their faith or sexual orientation.”

Since Japan does not recognizes same-sex couples' unions, the ceremonies have only symbolic meaning. Still, this conduct represents a significant step forward in a country that tends to incline more and more towards the idea of LGBT equality. According to the Pew Research Center survey, 54% of Japanese people agree with and support the equal gay rights, while only 36% remain against.

“Japan still has no LGBT protection laws, lawmakers aren’t even talking about it,” said LGBT activist Maki Muraki. “If more people come out and get married, it’ll increase LGBT awareness, marriage equality, and workplace equality.