Sapporo is set to become the first city in Japan to recognize same-sex legal partnerships.
While law still defines marriage as between a man and a woman in Japan, progress is slowly being made to give gay couples some legal protections to their relationship.
In 2015, Tokyo’s Shibuya district announced it would allow same-sex couples to have a ‘proof of partnership certificate. This would give protections as far as housing, hospital visitations and other situations.
Setagaya ward in Tokyo, as well as municipalities like Iga, Takarazuka, and Naha have followed suit.
Sapporo would be Japan’s first city to allow give gay couples some legal rights, as well as recognize relationships of non-binary people. It is the fourth largest in the country, is the largest on the northern island, and is well known for hosting the first ever Asian Winter Olympics in 1972. An estimated 2 million people live there.
In order to obtain a partnership certificate, applicants need to be residents of Sapporo and over the age of 20.
Either or both partners must also say they are ‘sexual minorities who recognize each other as a life partner and promise to cooperate with each other economically, physically and mentally in their daily life.’
Akitsugu Kuwaki, a 39-year-old bar owner, was a driving force behind the petition and was an organizing member of Rainbow March Sapporo. The Pride march began in 1996.
‘If I am ever hospitalized unconscious and in need of emergency surgery, I want my boyfriend to be the one to decide whether I should have such an operation, and to see me in the bed. But, in this society, such rights may not be recognized,’ Kuwaki told Asahi.
‘I believe (recognition of the legislation for same-sex partnerships) will provide broader choices in the lives of sexual minorities…
‘We must not just stay in the closet and blame society for a lack of understanding of LGBT issues. We ourselves need to reach out and ask for it.’
by Joe Morgan
Source – Gay Star News