• Kyodo

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The city of Chiba said Thursday that its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees will be able to enjoy the same leave of absence benefits as their married heterosexual peers starting in January.

The measure is the first of its kind for a municipal government, city officials said.

“We want to create an inclusive society that will ensure the rights of minorities including LGBT,” Mayor Toshihito Kumagai said in a news conference.

To adopt the policy change, the city said it will revise its work regulations so that LGBT employees can also take a special holiday given to newlyweds, and also take leaves of absence to take care of sick partners or their partners’ kin.

The city said the employees must submit a set of documents, including copies of their resident and census registries, when applying for the holiday schemes. It is not required of employees who are in legal or common-law marriages.

But Kumagai said the city decided that these conditions were necessary for LGBT employees to avoid criticism the city was being too lax with holiday benefits. By doing this, it will make it easier for employees to apply, he said.

Amid growing lobbying for the rights of sexual minorities, more efforts have been made in recent months to eliminate discrimination. Some municipalities have issued certificates to recognize same-sex partnerships as equivalent to marriage.

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