FUKUOKA – The Fukuoka Municipal Government on Monday began officially recognizing the partnerships of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender couples, adding to nationwide efforts to eliminate discrimination against sexual minorities.
The city is the seventh municipality in the country to issue such certificates after Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward established a similar system in 2015.
Fukuoka Mayor Soichiro Takashima handed the first official partnership certificate to a couple at City Hall.
“We’ve already spent our lives together as a family but we’re happy (to be recognized) because we feel like we received congratulations from society,” said Anri Ishizaki, a 33-year-old representative of a support group for LGBT people.
Ishizaki, who was assigned female at birth but identifies as a man, visited City Hall to receive the certificate with partner Miho Yamashita, 27.
The certificate does not entail legal rights or obligations like marriage under the civil law, but such couples will be treated as the equivalent of traditionally married couples when they rent city-run housing or seek treatment at municipal hospitals.
LGBT couples must make reservations to receive the certificate. Five other couples had done so as of Monday, the municipal government said.