Tokyo has begun issuing partnership certificates to same-sex couples who live and work within the capital. It’s the largest municipality to do so in a country in which same-sex marriage is not allowed.
In June, a district court in Japan has upheld the. But since Tokyo’s Shibuya district first introduced same-sex partnership recognition in 2015, more than 200 smaller communities have implemented the same statues for LGBTQ+ couples.
While the certificates are not legally binding, the new statues will allow LGBTQ+ partners to be treated as married couples for some public services such as housing, health care and welfare.
Many sexual minority couples say the partnership recognition will improve their daily lives, allowing them to rent apartments and sign documents in medical emergencies, and in inheritance.
“With this (certificate), there is no need to explain, and I think I will be able to talk to other people about the relationship between myself and my partner with a bit more confidence,” said Soyoka Yamamoto, who campaigned for same-sex partnership recognition by Tokyo.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said 137 couples had applied for a certificate since Oct. 28.
In celebration of the new recognition, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building was illuminated with rainbow lights in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo on Tuesday.
Campaigns for equal rights for sexual minorities, including same-sex marriage, have faced resistance from conservatives in Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s governing party who oppose more inclusivity for sexual minorities, calling them “unproductive.”
Same-sex marriage is currently legal in 31 countries and Taiwan, according to the Human Rights Campaign.