SAPPORO - The city of Sapporo began issuing cards serving as proof of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender partnerships on Friday, responding to calls from couples seeking portable evidence they can present in emergencies and other situations.
The city in Hokkaido started authenticating partnership oaths submitted by sexual-minority couples in June last year, but had only issued a certificate in the form of an A4-size (21 cm by 29.7 cm) document.
The new card is the same size as a name card and bears the names of both partners and the date of issue, as well as a note asking people to recognize its purpose while acknowledging it is not legally binding.
LGBT partnerships do not entail legal rights or obligations under civil law in the way that marriage does, but the new card is expected to be used when couples rent accommodations or wish to visit a partner in the hospital, among other situations.
In the absence of a nationwide scheme, Sapporo certified the partnership oaths of 42 couples in the first year, the most of all municipalities with similar programs.
Tokyo’s Shibuya and Setagaya wards became the first municipalities to recognize such partnerships in 2015, and the cities of Iga, Takarazuka, Fukuoka and Naha have followed.
Fukuoka, which introduced the system in April, also hands out a similar proof of partnership in card format.