Japanese city becomes first to officially recognise same-sex foster parents

Lesbians at Pride

A city in Japan has become the first to recognise a first same-sex couple as foster parents.

The gay couple in Osaka, who are in their 40s and 30s, has now officially fostered a teenage boy, who has been living with them since February.

The older of the two men – who asked not to be named – welcomed the decision, saying: “I am happy we became foster parents [and recognised] as a single household, not just as individuals.

Their foster child is now “living a comfortable life,” he told Tokyo outlet Kyodo News.

The partners originally registered their intent to foster a child in autumn 2015 and had to undergo a series of lectures and training and other scrutiny by authorities, including social welfare tests.

The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare confirmed that there was “no precedent” for a same-sex couple being certified as foster parents.

Same-sex fostering is not banned in Japan, but simply does not happen – until now.

The latest government data indicated 3,704 foster parent households nationwide, with the vast majority being straight married couples, and the rest made up by single parents.

Osaka, Japan’s third-biggest city, hosts an annual pride parade, while Kanako Otsuji, the first openly lesbian politician in the country, came out after being appointed to the city’s Prefectural Assembly.

In 2013, a local government ward in Osaka was the first Japanese district to officially support LGBT rights.

In the last few months, Japan has seen several steps towards LGBT equality.

March saw the first trans man to be elected to public office in the country, as well as a national policy which protects against anti-LGBT bullying for the first time.

Same-sex marriage is not legal in Japan, but nevertheless, the first surviving same-sex spousal benefit application was filed in the country earlier this year.

And from June, Sapporo, a city with nearly two million people, will become the largest in the country to issue formal recognition to same-sex couples.