The LGBT community lives in a bizarre hinterland in Japan. The public face of the community being its outspoken, popular ‘new-half’ presenters such as Haruna Ai and Matsuko Deluxe and the private side of mass denial and FINGERS IN EARS LA-LA-LA-LA-LA!
There is a general consensus that although homosexuality is legal, lets not talk about such things around the dinner table please Taro! Gay couples regularly face discrimination when trying to rent apartments or getting visitation if the other is in hospital.
This week the Shibuya district in Tokyo announced it will start to issue certificates that recognize such relationships as “equivalent to marriage.” Although the certificates are not yet legally binding they will hopefully put pressure on businesses, landlords and hospitals into providing the same level of service as heterosexual couples.
Same-sex marriage is currently not legal in Japan. Marriage is defined legally as “based only on the mutual consent of both sexes.” Compared with the west there is very little activism happening to fight that. The certificates will be open to any resident of Shibuya Ku over the age of 20. It will give the couple next of kin privileges and they will be able to become each others guardian. It will be annulled if the couple breaks up.
Openly gay politician Taiga Ishikawa praised Shibuya and said that ;
“Cases overseas suggest that local municipalities’move to grant same-sex couples more legitimate status sometimes affects national policies. So I’m very happy about it,”
Famous LGBT activist Koyuki Higashi has said she is “over the moon” and plans to get a certificate as soon as they become available. Higashi and her partner held the first same-sex marriage at Tokyo Disney Land in 2013. Although the marriage has no legal basis.
Higashi has said;
“We’re virtually married. But without legal backup, it’s still very difficult to live in this society. Prejudice remains deeply ingrained in Japanese society. But I hope this move will become the first step to turn Japan into a society more accepting of the idea of diversity.”