Japan has officially recognised same sex couples for the first time with a council in Tokyo set to issue “partnership” certificates – which afford the same kinds of recognition as marriage certificates, reports say.
The council, in Shibuya – a shopping and business hub – will begin issuing the certificates in the coming months.
While Japan is mostly tolerant of homosexuality, there have been incidents in the country where homosexual couples have hidden their sexuality in order to rent apartments, might keep their sexuality hidden at work and in some cases couples have been unable to visit their partner in the hospital.
The new certificate is a step toward equality and recognition of the same rights as an equivalent of heterosexual marriage.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party is cautious on the issue, especially when it comes to gay marriage.
Changing the charter to allow gay marriage would require “extremely cautious consideration,” Abe said February in parliament. The current constitution “does not envisage marriage between people of the same sex,” he said.
However there has been momentum toward recognising gay relationships for some time in Japan. The new certificate recognising same sex relationships is a step forward.
Shibuya mayor Toshitake Kuwahara told journalists at a press conference that it was a step forward for equality.
“It’s important to positively embrace the diversity of people’s gender. It’s an issue of self-responsibility, and LGBT people don’t receive social support and exist in isolation and desperation.”
A recent poll conducted by a newspaper in Japan found that 44 per cent of respondents approved of same-sex marriage, with 39 percent opposed.
Eighteen countries including New Zealand, the U.K. and Argentina are among the countries that allow same sex marriage.