Back in May 2020 the world was still learning how to survive the pandemic and quarantine. However, when Japan declared a soft lockdown; a gay couple living together from Amagasaki, western Japan decided to ease their lockdown boredom by visiting a ‘love hotel’.
Instead of the relaxing free time, the gay men who are in their mid 30s, did not even get access to a room. Read on to find out what happened next.
What Is A Love Hotel?
A ‘Love Hotel’ is a short, temporary stay hotel for couples who want to indulge in sexual activities with complete privacy. You could say it’s a private space for couples to just be carefree. The name originally comes from ‘Hotel Love’, built in 1968 at Osama, Japan and had a rotating sign. Obviously such kind of private space providers for love birds exist all over the world. But they are famously go by the name ‘Love Hotels’ in Japan
These ‘Love Hotels’ originally came into picture to help couples who craved for a desperate escape from their extended families; who as per traditions all lived under the same roof. Basically these hotels provided a few hours of intimacy for couples – away from the family.
The Gay Couples Refused Entry:
“The receptionist was very polite,” told one of the men to the Kobe Shimbun. “He just said men aren’t allowed.” The same attempt to find another room at a different nearby love hotel also disappointed the couple. But, the language used by this other love hotel’s staff was completely homophobic.
“Gay men don’t use the facilities properly,” said the female receptionist to them, without any further explanation. “It was a clear case of discrimination,” said the man, who remained anonymous, to the newspaper. “We were being treated like second-class citizens.”
They Are Not The Only Ones:
The man and his partner are in a partnership that is legally recognized by the local Japan government. However, there are several other civil gay couples who suffer the same fate. Japan’s love hotels service to millions of straight couples who desire intimacy and privacy; and are always welcoming them with open hands. But when it comes to LGBTQ couples, often they are denied their rights to a private time.
Many nations across the world have doubled their awareness of LGBTQIA+ rights. But Japan stands to be the only G7 nation that refuses to recognize same-sex unions; along with this most of the country’s billion dollar love hotel business industry seem only let heterosexual couples into their safe spaces.
Japan’s first openly gay MP, Taiga Ishikawa, calculated that out of the 143 love hotels in the Toshima ward of Tokyo 30 of them refused entry estimated that of 143 love hotels in Tokyo’s Toshima ward, where he began his career as an assembly member, 30 refused entry to same-sex couples.
It’s because of this expectation that gay couples will be rejected, many people from the community consider love hotels as off-limits. One member of the Tokyo LGBTQIA+, said to the Guardian, “Nothing dampens the prospect of a romantic evening out more than a homophobic hotel policy.”
The Government Is Not Giving Much Attention:
Japan’s authorities don’t go beyond issuing an “administrative guidance’ to the love hotels; the ones reported for discriminating LGBTQIA+ couples and treat them like lesser people. These hotels are openly ignoring the law that equalizes homosexuals and heterosexuals.
Pride House Tokyo‘s founder and president, Gon Matsunaka, says firmly that many hotel will continue to keep ignoring the law. “They often get away with discrimination as they don’t give an explicit reason for denying rooms to same-sex couples,” he said. “They make excuses, like claiming there are no rooms available.
“We could have people coming from all over the world to next year’s Olympics; and if gay couples are denied entry to love hotels it will not reflect well on Japan.”
Many online platforms started to list “queer-friendly” love hotels in Japan. But, Matsunaka says that Japan’s society completely denying to accept the community has made homophobia socially correct and acceptable.
“There are a few love hotels that accept same-sex couples, like in the ni-chome gay district of Tokyo; but limited” he said. “There is no pressure on the industry to change its ways.”
Making It Hard For LGBTQ To Come Out Of The Closet:
This no legal protection for LGBTQIA+ minorities has made it “really difficult” for many community people to come out, said Nishiyama. “Places like love hotels where LGBTQ+ people can be guaranteed privacy are really important. They make it possible for them to be who they are; and to be with their partner, without fear.”
The two love hotels in Amagasaki were reprimanded after the man filed a complaint; this prompted officials to stop them from distinguishing among same-sex and straight guests. Last month, the assembly of the city is planning to discard “opposite sex” from the love hotel clientele from a local ordinance.
“This is a great decision,” said Nishiyama. “A change in attitude among government organizations; so they no longer exclude same-sex couples from love hotels will enable people to use them in safety. And it will raise awareness among hotel staff.”