Sapporo has become the first city in Japan to officially recognize same-sex partnerships.
According to Kyodo News, on Thursday the city also became the first to recognize partnerships between heterosexual couples with gender dysphoria.
The initiative is another step towards legalization of same sex unions in Japan and comes after Tokyo’s Shibuya and Setagaya districts became the first to recognize same-sex partnerships in 2015. Iga, Takarazuka and Naha also recognized same-sex partnerships in 2016.
The Latin American Herald Tribune reports that large Japanese corporations have also started adopting labor laws that ban discrimination in the workplace.
A 32-year-old woman who received recognition of her same-sex partnership said:
“I am delighted. I was finally able to do it. It may be self-satisfaction but I want other people to use the system without caring what people around them think as they can become happy.”
Upon signing a “partnership vow,” the couple receives copies of their vow and a receipt from the city. These documents do not confer legal rights or obligations, but enable them to become recipients of life insurance money and use family-member discounts for mobile phone and other services.
Japanese civil law does not recognize any rights for same-sex couples. The country’s constitution specifies that marriage should be based only on mutual consent between opposite-sex couples.