Why Japan keeps handing out certificates to gay couples but won’t let them get married

VICE -- Jul 01
In Japan, gay marriage is not legal. The national government has maintained that only a man and a woman can be wedded, a position backed as recently as last month by a court in Osaka.

Frustrated with the lack of progress, a number of local authorities have since 2015 taken it upon themselves to issue certificates to same-sex partners to recognize their unions.

With these pieces of paper, couples are given access to some rights previously denied to them—like visiting their partners in hospital or enrolling in the same insurance.

While Japan’s LGBTQ people and rights activists acknowledge that this is a big step forward, they argue it’s far from equal.

Only nine out of 47 prefectures have implemented this system. And at a judicial and national level, change seems like a distant prospect. On June 20, the district court in the western prefecture of Osaka ruled that same-sex couples weren’t guaranteed the constitutional right to marry because unions should be “between a man and a woman.”

Rather than waiting an indefinite time for Japan’s ruling party to legalize same-sex marriage, local governments have therefore instead found a way to extend some rights to LGBTQ couples by implementing the partnership certificate system. ...continue reading

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