The Tokyo metropolitan government began issuing partnership certificates to same-sex couples living and working in the capital on Tuesday, a long-awaited move in a country that still does not allow equal marriage.
The status does not carry the same rights as marriage, but allows LGBTQ partners to be treated like married couples for some public services in areas such as housing, health and welfare.
More than 200 small local authorities in Japan have since taken action to recognize same-sex relationships. Tokyo’s Shibuya district pioneered the system in 2015.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said as of Friday last week, 137 couples had applied for certification.
Hopes are high among advocates that the introduction of same-sex partnership certificates, which cover both Tokyo residents and commuters, will help combat anti-LGBTQ discrimination. Japan.
Miki and Katie are among those who have no official proof of their relationship.
“My biggest fear was that we would be treated like foreigners in an emergency,” Miki told AFP.
Wanting to be known by their first names, without proof of partnership, the couple stuffed a note in their wallet containing the other’s contact information.
“However, these were insufficient and we felt that official documents approved by the local government would be more effective,” Miki said. Said.
“The more people use these partnership systems, the more encouraged our community will be to tell their family and friends about their relationships without hiding their true selves.”
In recent years we have seen Japan take small steps towards embracing sexual diversity.
More companies are now proclaiming support for same-sex marriage, and gay characters are appearing in TV shows.
A 2021 poll by public broadcaster NHK showed that 57% of the public favor same-sex marriage, while 37% are against it.
But obstacles remain, with an Osaka court ruling in June that the country’s refusal to recognize same-sex partnerships is unconstitutional.
This has been a setback for campaigners after the Sapporo court’s landmark ruling last year, which he said violates Japan’s constitutionally guaranteed right to equality.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has been cautious about the possibility of legislative changes to recognize same-sex partnerships at the national level.
“Some politicians made really negative comments, we’re mentally ill,” Katie told AFP.
“But families don’t always consist of a mother, a father and two children. We have to be more flexible,” he said.
While inheritance rights are still not guaranteed in the event of a spouse’s death, Katie’s lack of spouse visa status makes her ability to stay in Japan less stable.
“I feel that the understanding of the Japanese people towards same-sex marriage is now high enough,” Miki said.
It’s all that’s left for policymakers to get serious about it and make changes,” he said.
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