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In a landmark move last February, Shibuya Ward in Tokyo announced it would begin legally officiating same-sex partnerships, giving gay couples the same rights as married heterosexual couples. While the movement, set to begin in October this year, has received some scrutiny, it has also seen plenty of support.

Now, in what may be the beginning of a domino effect, one of Shibuya’s neighboring wards, Setagaya, has also announced that it will be offering the same legal recognition to same-sex couples, beginning this November.

Setagaya Ward officials announced on July 29 the decision to begin legally recognizing same-sex partnerships. While the details of the motion have yet to be announced, there are hopes that the movement will help increase awareness of and reduce prejudices against the LGBT community. The ward will begin issuing certifications this November.

According to the outline, residents of Setagaya Ward (or one resident, whose partner provides proof of plans to move to Setagaya Ward) who are both 20 years or older, can pledge an oath of partnership and receive an officiated certificate acknowledging their oath.

Same-sex couples often have housing applications rejected, and are denied hospital visitation rights which are limited to registered family members only. There are hopes that the measures taken in Shibuya and Setagaya will help reduce this kind of discrimination.

According to a diversity survey conducted by Dentsu Inc., the leading international advertising and public relations company in Japan, of approximately 70,000 people surveyed, 7.6 percent identified as LGBT. Let’s hope this domino effect continues, as it will positively benefit so many people.

Source: Tokyo Shimbun via Hachima Kikou
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