National

Yokohama begins distributing papers recognizing LGBT and common-law couples

Kyodo

Yokohama began issuing certificates that recognize the partnerships of sexual minorities and common-law couples Monday.

Yokohama is the third city in the nation to implement a recognition system for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, as well as common-law couples, according to the city. It will also provide translated certificates for eligible foreign people who require them.

To receive the certificates, all applicants must be at least 20 years old and residents of the city. If one member of the couple lives in the city and the other plans to move there, then they are also eligible.

Yokohama joins Chiba and Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, in recognizing common-law marriages.

“We feel like we’ve gained immense backing now that we’re being accepted in the city we live in,” said a woman in a same-sex partnership, who, along with her partner, was the first to register in the city. “We would like these kinds of developments to become more common.”

Yokohama is planning on allowing those registered in the newly accepted relationships to apply for public housing as couples. It also plans to work with private-sector medical facilities and real estate agencies on extending the certificate’s benefits.

The introduction of the system follows a series of similar decisions by other municipalities, including the Tokyo wards of Shibuya and Setagaya, and the cities of Sapporo, Fukuoka and Osaka, to recognize LGBT partnerships.