As part of celebrations for the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia on 17 May, UNAIDS signed a memorandum of understanding with Pride House Tokyo.

Pride House is an international initiative that provides a safe space for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) athletes, their families and friends during major sporting events such as the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games and the FIFA World Cup. Japan is hosting the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Gon Matsunaka, the Executive Director of Good Aging Yells, an LGBTI advocacy organization, leads a consortium of 28 civil society groups that launched Pride House Tokyo. He signed the memorandum of understanding with Gunilla Carlsson, UNAIDS Executive Director, a.i.

“This is a win–win partnership for UNAIDS and Pride House Tokyo,” said Ms Carlsson. “I sincerely hope that not only our relationship with Japan, in particular with Japanese civil society, will be further strengthened, but also that we will be able to contribute to the success of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo next year.”

Through the memorandum of understanding, UNAIDS will provide technical assistance to and jointly programme activities related to human rights and sexual health run by Pride House Tokyo.

“I hope that UNAIDS’ support and experience on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex human rights and sexual health will carry over beyond the Olympic Games and change society in Japan and across Asia,” Mr Matsunaka said.

Among the Group of Seven countries, Japan is the only country yet to legalize same-sex partnerships. Mr Matsunaka explained that Tokyo has no big LGBTI centre, so he hopes Pride House Tokyo will become permanent beyond 2020.

The concept of Pride House started during the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, during which a local organization set up a hospitality and information centre on LGBTI issues. The concept spread around the world, with local nongovernmental organizations hosting similar houses during major sporting events.