Pride House Tokyo Legacy has opened its doors ©Pride House Tokyo

Pride House Tokyo Legacy has opened its first community hub for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people as part of its project to create an inclusive space and raise awareness of discrimination before the Olympics and Paralympics.

Having been a part of the Olympic Games since Vancouver 2010, Pride House continues to provide information centres to educate the public about sexual diversity and offer refuge for those suffering harassment or discrimination.

Japan still does not recognise same-sex unions, with same-sex couples reportedly struggling to rent apartments together, according to Unseen Japan.

They have also been barred from hospital visits.

Japan is still one of the most LGBTQ progressive nations in Asia, with homosexuality legal since 1880.

Although transgender people have been recognised since 2004, a controversial part of the law requires them to only be identified as their preferred gender after reassignment surgery and sterilisation.

Despite the public seeming to be more in favour of same sex marriage than against in 2015, it is still not legal in Japan. 

Anti-discrimination laws also do not exist in most of the country, including in the workplace, and same-sex adoption is not legal.

"Japan, not just in sporting circles but society as a whole – including schools and workplaces is not friendly to LGBTQ people, and it is hard to come out," said Gon Matsunaka, head of the Pride House Tokyo Consortium in an interview with AFP.

Pride House has been part of the Olympic Movement since 2010 ©Getty Images
Pride House has been part of the Olympic Movement since 2010 ©Getty Images

A record 56 known LGBT athletes participated in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

The Pride House movement was launched during the Vancouver Games by local non-profit organisations, to promote the existence of sexual and gender minority groups in sport.

Since then, Pride House has been part of the Olympic Movement – with the exception of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics where the project was struck down by the Russian Ministry of Justice.

This coincided with the anti-LGBT laws of the country that still exist today.

Those involved in setting up the Tokyo branch included transgender man Fumino Sugiyama, a former athlete on the national women's fencing team.

"When I was fencing, it was unthinkable to come out in the sports community, which was particularly homophobic," said Sugiyama.

"I faced a dilemma between trying to do the sport I love, where I can't be myself, or trying to be myself and having to stop fencing."

The coincided with National Coming Out Day, a campaign celebrated annually since 1988 for those who are LGBTQ to be open about their sexuality and identity.