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Shijiro Atae — Photo courtesy of Yomiuri Shimbun / AP
Shijiro Atae — Photo courtesy of Yomiuri Shimbun / AP

Japanese music artist Shinjiro Atae comes out as Gay
Shinjiro Atae, a Japanese pop star, came out as Gay at a fan event in Tokyo on July 26. The announcement was met with support, as fans cheered, applauded, and called out, "Hang in there!"

Atae is currently based in Los Angeles, where he is pursuing a solo career after being part of the group AAA for 15 years. He posted on Instagram saying he was worried coming out as Gay might cause him to be shunned or lose his career.

"It is better, both for me and for the people I care about, including my fans, to accept who I truly am and tell you so," Atae said. "I hope people who are struggling with the same feeling will find courage and know they are not alone."

The announcement accompanies an increase in awareness for LGBTQ+ people in Japan. LGBTQ+ activists in Japan have been trying to get an anti-discrimination law passed, but in June the parliament settled for a law that promotes awareness for LGBTQ+ people without providing additional protections.

Few public figures have come out in Japan. Ai Haruna was the first to win Thailand's Miss International Queen, a beauty pageant for Trans women. Taiga Ishikawa, a lawmaker, is Japan's first openly Gay parliamentarian.

LGBTQ+ activist Sosuke Matuoka was at the event, and says he teared up listening to Atae's announcement.

"If I heard his message when I was younger and struggling with my sexuality, it would have given me a big hope," Matuoka said.

German activist warns about hate crime rise
At Christopher Street Day, a Pride event in Berlin, Anastasia Biefang raised concerns about a rise in homophobic and anti-Trans violence. She is the first openly Trans person to serve as a commander in the German military, and she compared the recent anti-Queer sentiments to rhetoric used by Nazis.

"I hear narratives that I thought we had overcome since 1945," Biefang said.

According to Interior Ministry data, recorded hate crimes against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans people have risen by 15.5% since last year.

One of Biefang's concerns is opposition to LGBTQ+ rights from far-right parties. A recent poll by the weekly newspaper Bild am Sonntag verifies her worries. The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which has received criticism for disparaging LGBTQ+ rights, was supported by 22% of poll respondents, a new record.