Tokyo wards defy Japanese government by recognising same-sex couples

Two wards in Tokyo have begun issuing certificates recognizing same-sex couples in spite of a constitutional ban.

The city’s Shibuya and Setagaya wards this week began issuing certificates recognizing same-sex couples – in spite of Japanese constitutional ban on same sex marriage.

The plans for same sex couple recognition were first announced back in February, and the first certificates were issued to lesbian couple Koyuki Higashi and Kiroki Masuhara at 8:30 this morning, according to a report in the Asahi Shimbun.

The certificates will allow same sex couples access to family housing in ward run residential property, allow family only hospital visits for partners and other legal rights that have previously been denied to same sex couples in the country.

The certificates will not be recognised outside the wards as the Japanese constitution states that “marriage shall be based only on the mutual consent of both sexes.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has previously voiced his unwillingness to allow same sex marriages in the country because it would be ‘difficult’ under the constitution as it stands.

The Shibuya district has a reputation as a LGBT friendly district and hosted Tokyo pride this year.

In march policy makers in the country announced that they will be examining LGBT discrimination in Japan in the run up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games.