KOBE - The city of Takarazuka, Hyogo Prefecture, will join two Tokyo wards in issuing certificates recognizing same-sex partnership as being equivalent to marriage, with officials saying the move will address discrimination against sexual minorities.
The city, home to the famous Takarazuka Revue all-female musical troupe, said it will start issuing the certificates authenticating partnership oaths by same-sex couples in June.
“Municipalities can offer the biggest support to same-sex couples who face hardships in everyday life,” Mayor Tomoko Nakagawa said Monday at a news conference. “We want to deliver this message: Don’t worry on your own, we are with you.”
The city will set guidelines by March regarding the issuance of certificates so that the holders of the papers will be treated the same as married couples with regard to various services. At least one member of the couple must live in Takarazuka.
Shibuya and Setagaya wards in Tokyo became Japan’s first and second local governments to introduce the certificate system on Nov. 5. So far, 10 same-sex couples have received the certificates, according to the two wards.
People in same-sex relationships often face discrimination when looking for housing or visiting their partner in a hospital on the grounds that they are not relatives.
The city of Takarazuka is planning to revise an ordinance so same-sex couples can live in apartments run by the municipality. The local government will also have all employees receive education on sexual minorities over two years starting in fiscal 2016.
It will set up a telephone counseling service around May for residents who are sexual minorities.
Same-sex marriages are not legally allowed in Japan and such couples say they face disadvantages, such as inability to inherit property from partners without a will or benefit from income tax deductions for spouses.