A Buddhist temple built in 1590 in historic Kyoto is welcoming gay couples from all over the world to come have a traditional wedding ceremony on their beautiful temple grounds.

A Zen Buddhist temple is Japan is making a statement of its acceptance and celebration of gay marriage by openly inviting gay couples from all over the world to have a wedding ceremony on the historic temple grounds. The Shinryoku Temple in Kyoto, along with local Hotel Granvia, is promoting the rights of all human beings to marry whoever they wished. "There's nothing in Zen Buddhist teachings that says you can't love a member of the opposite sex," said vice priest Kawakami. "I think our role is to give those people support." The first same-sex wedding at the temple took place six years ago to a lesbian couple from Spain who had spent some time meditating at the temple as part of a pilgrimage.

The hotel that's helping out with the ceremonies is in itself a champion of gay rights in Japan. Hotel Granvia in 2006 became the first hotel in Japan to join the IGLTA, the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association. The management had all employees go through a program to educate them on gay and lesbian rights. So teaming up with The Shinryoku to provide wedding services for same sex couples made perfect sense.


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Of course, neither the temple nor the hotel can legally wed a couple. But the traditional ceremony, with priests and kimonos, is 100% real. "Many people in Japan may not really support or understand this yet. But I think with time everybody will," said Kawakami. Wedding requests are coming in from all over the world, with more and more couples finding out about this awesome Zen temple.