Tokyo Will Now Issue Partnership Certificates To Same-Sex Couples

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The certificate is similar to the U.S.’s civil unions and allows some legal benefits but does bestow marriage rights.

Tokyo is now issuing partnership certificates to same-sex couples. 

According to the BBC, this partnership certificate “will allow same-sex couples to be treated the same as married couples when it comes to housing, medicine and welfare” but “it will not help with issues like adoption, inheritance and spousal visas.”

Soyoka Yamamoto, an LGBTQ+ rights campaigner, was one of the first to accept her certificate with her partner, the BBC reports. She told reporters she hopes “we can accelerate efforts to create a society where the rights of sexual minorities can be protected, and made more equal.”

Anyone who is 18 or older and lives or works in Tokyo is eligible for a certificate. The first same-sex partnership certificates were issued in 2015 in the Shibuya district, and have been slowly spreading across the country since. 

The certificate is similar to the U.S.’s civil unions and allows some legal benefits but does not bestow marriage rights. Japan is currently the only country in the G7 group of developed nations that does not support marriage equality.

However, polls suggest that the majority of the Japanese public are in favor of marriage equality. A survey done by Japan’s national broadcaster NHK in 2021 found that 57% of Japanese citizens were in favor of same-sex marriage while 37% were against it. 

Marriage equality remains a topic of debate in Japan’s legal circles. In March of 2021, a district court in Sapporo ruled that the current ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. However, an Osaka court ruled that the ban was constitutional in a decision that came down earlier this year.  

Tokyo’s partnership certificates come in the same week that marriage equality was legalized across Mexico. Mexico in now one of only three Central American countries to allow same-sex marriage, along with Cuba and Costa Rica.


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