(UPI) — Tokyo began issuing certificates recognizing same-sex couples on Tuesday, allowing them to be treated as married couples for certain public services.
While Japan does not legally recognize same-sex marriage, the certificate process is a step towards marriage equality. Japan is the only Group of Seven country that does not nationally recognize same-sex marriage.
Under the so-called Tokyo Partnership Oath System, couples will be able to, for instance, apply for municipal housing and include their children’s names on their partnership certificates.
“The launch of the system must drive social change,” Soyoka Yamamoto, who heads activist group Partnership Act for Tokyo, said at a press conference. “Let this system serve as a catalyst to spearhead efforts to achieve a society where sexual minorities are equally protected.”
Polling has shown that a majority of Japanese citizens support gay marriage.
According to a survey conducted in 2021 by Japan’s public broadcaster NHK, 57% were in favor, while just 37% were against.
Fumino Sugiyama, a co-chair of Tokyo Rainbow Pride, which organizes the capital’s yearly LGBTQ pride events told Kyodo News that there was still more work to do.
“One is the freedom to marry, the other is a ban on discrimination and the third is easing the conditions required for gender reassignment,” Sugiyama said.