The Graves Issue for LGBTQ
Updated: Jun 1
The term "LGBTQ" is now often heard in Japan. The meaning of LGBTQ is a general term for sexual minorities.
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Recently, LGBTQ issues are often discussed, but the biggest LGBTQ issue that has been around for a long time now is regarding same-sex marriage. In Japan, same-sex marriage is still not recognized, so LGBTQ issues, such as not being able to go to the grave together, exist even after the death of people.
Let's take a look at the relationship between the LGBTQ community and graves and what solutions are available to address the problem of people of this community not being able to be buried together in the same grave.
What Is LGBTQ in the First Place?
Let's start with the meaning of LGBTQ. LGBTQ is a general term for sexual minorities, but it is an acronym for each word. Below are the meanings of LGBTQ.
L (Lesbian): A woman who likes the same sex.
G (Gay): A man who is attracted to the same sex.
B (Bisexual): A person who can like both the same and opposite sex.
T (Transgender): A person whose body and mind are of different sexes.
Q (Queer/Questioning): A person who does not fit into a specific category regarding his or her sexuality, or a person whose sexual orientation or gender identity is unclear or cannot be determined.
Today, there are many different terms for gender awareness that do not fit within the LGBTQ meaning alone. Gender recognition is not something that can be described in one word because of the way one feels about one's sexuality and about other people's sexuality, and there are a wide variety of worldviews.
Can We Be Buried in the Same Grave Even if We Are Not Legally Married?
There are many different views on the issue of LGBTQ people sharing a grave. This is because Japanese graves are based primarily on the "family structure," and it is difficult to accept people who are not family members.
The law does not specify who can be placed in the grave with whom. Therefore, for people of the LGBTQ community who wish to be placed together in a grave, if the cemetery or the relatives approve it, it is possible for them to be placed together.
However, some cemeteries may specify the number of relatives who may be placed in the same grave. In such cases, it is advisable to bring evidence of your lawful marital status and discuss it with the cemetery. Recently, there have been more and more cemeteries that do not have a problem with LGBTQ people being placed in the grave, so it is often possible to place them in the same grave together.
Also, if you wish to be placed in a grave that has been passed down from generation to generation along with other family members, you must obtain the consensus of your relatives. This is because LGBTQ people in Japan face problems relating to same-sex marriage issues and, therefore, cannot become family members.
Further, the Civil Code has an article called "Recognition of Rights Related to Rituals". This specifies the person who presides over the rituals to take over the graves. Therefore, LGBTQ community people are allowed to enter the grave together as long as they can obtain the consent of the person in charge of the ritual.
Current Status of LGBTQ in Japan
The percentage of the LGBTQ population in Japan is said to be in the range of a few percent to 10%, as there are cases where those involved are not open. As a result, the percentage of the LGBTQ community in Japan tends to be lower than the percentage of LGBTQ people in other countries.
This is because many foreign countries have approved of "same-sex marriage," which is one of the major LGBTQ issues in other countries. One example is Austria, which has many homosexual immigrants worldwide because of its recognition of same-sex marriage. Also, a grand LGBTQ parade (Pride Parade) is held once a year, and when the day approaches, the city is decorated with rainbow-colored flags and decorations, which symbolize the LGBTQ people. This also attracts many tourists.
Is Same-Sex Marriage Recognized in Japan?
Same-sex marriage is not recognized in Japan. The reason why same-sex marriage is not recognized in Japan is due to the Constitution. Today, despite advocating for equal rights as human beings, Japan's LGBTQ, same-sex marriage issue is not recognized. There are voices on both sides, in favor of and against this.
Perhaps in response to this, the homosexual ‘partnership’ system is now recognized by various municipalities and local governments in Japan. Since Japan does not recognize same-sex marriages, the partnership system is a unique system established by local governments to issue certificates to LGBTQ couples as a "relationship equivalent to marriage", etcetera.
This has made it easier for them to receive various social services and considerations, such as being treated like family in hospitals, being able to move into public housing as family members, and becoming the recipient of life insurance, etcetera.
Since the first partnership system was implemented in the Shibuya ward in Japan, in 2015, the partnership system has spread throughout Japan and is now implemented in more than 200 municipalities. This partnership system does not recognize same-sex marriages in Japan, so they cannot legally become a family.
However, while this system has not fundamentally solved the same-sex marriage problem within LGBTQ, it has actually helped homosexuals to live their lives together with their partners.
To Sleep with a Loving Partner as LGBTQ
Despite the fact that LGBTQ issues in Japan have eased in some respects, there are still many cases where relatives and others do not agree that LGBTQ people should be buried together in a grave. So, what are the options available for graves and memorial services? Let's take a closer look.
Memorial services at a “perpetual care cemetery” or “tree burial”
In order to solve the problem of LGBTQ people who want to be buried with their loved ones but are unable to do so, there are more and more cemeteries and temples offering memorial services such as being buried with their loved ones in perpetual/ permanent memorial services or tree burial grounds.
Perpetual memorial services are a burial method in which cemeteries and temples manage and care for the remains and do the memorial service on behalf of the bereaved family members who cannot visit the grave. Perpetual memorial services can also be useful for those who do not have a grave, cannot enter a grave, for burying the remains of a deceased person with no relatives, or for those who cannot afford a grave.
In many cases, in perpetual memorial services, the deceased's remains are buried in a perpetual memorial service grave. Since there is no need to inherit the grave, finding a new grave is unnecessary if the deceased is placed in a perpetual memorial service grave. In addition, with a perpetual memorial service grave, there is no need for land and tombstones that are required for a grave.
Since the cost of a grave can be significantly reduced, with a perpetual memorial service grave, there is no need to worry about what happens after death.
Tree burial, which is a part of the perpetual memorial services, is a funeral in which the remains are buried under plants, trees, or flowers, and the trees and plants take the place of the tombstone. Many people prefer tree burial because by returning to the soil, one can return to nature.
Currently, there are many regulations on burying ashes, so some cemeteries allow burial directly into the ground, while others allow the burial of whole urns). Also, unlike sea burial and other burial forms, one can visit the graves in tree burials. Also, tree burials are not limited to homosexuals, as many people visit graves to remember their deceased loved ones.
Thus, perpetual memorial services can accommodate many people, and many temples and cemeteries are willing to take up LGBTQ issues seriously and try to resolve them.
However, suppose it is a “perpetual memorial grave” or “tree funeral” where you can have a permanent memorial service. In that case, it is not always possible to be put to rest in the same grave, so it is recommended that you check in advance.
"Diamond funeral" by making cremation diamonds: from the remains of the deceased
One solution to the "unable to get a grave" problem for LGBTQ people is the diamond funeral, as proposed by LONITÉ™. A diamond funeral is a funeral in which a diamond is created from the remains of the deceased.
In the diamond burial method, carbon extracted from the remains is purified to 99.99%, and natural diamond seeds are added. The carbon is then placed in a special device that reproduces the same creative environment in which natural diamonds are formed, and the carbon is crystallized as a "cremation diamond".
In this way, a real diamond (a "remains/cremation diamond") with the same properties as a natural diamond is created. The resulting cremation diamond is then kept as a memento or as a part of the deceased as a memorial. This whole process is equivalent to mourning the deceased. This is why we call making cremation diamonds a "diamond burial".
As cremation diamonds are made from the deceased's ashes, they are truly the deceased person themselves. The sparkle of the diamond is the "sparkle of the deceased," and by keeping the diamond close to you or wearing it as jewelry, you will always be able to remember the deceased.
LGBTQ is a general term for sexual minorities. Since LGBTQ people are a minority, they face a variety of problems. In particular, the issue of same-sex marriage has caused problems such as not being able to be buried together. This is because same-sex marriage is not yet recognized in Japan.
In recent years, each municipality has had its unique system called a partnership system to solve the problem of same-sex marriage for LGBTQ people. Even though same-sex marriage is not allowed in Japan, this system is easing marriage problems for LGBTQ people.
Solutions to the issue of graves for LGBTQ people include perpetual memorial services, such as tree burial, and diamond burial, in which cremation diamonds are made from the remains of the deceased. However, considering that a perpetual memorial service is not always possible, a “diamond funeral” can be said to be the most suitable funeral method for LGBTQ people to hold a memorial service after death, as it does not question religion or gender.