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Breakthroughs big and small in the struggle for LGBT equality are coming so fast in Japan that it’s hard to keep up. The deluge of news started with a groundbreaking ruling last month by the Sapporo District Court that said the ban on same-sex marriage was “unconstitutional.”

The ruling not only marks a significant milestone toward a more inclusive society but is also sure to galvanize activists pushing for the passage of a LGBT equality law ahead of the Tokyo Games, argues Thisanka Siripala. Even some conservative ruling party figures are on board, Jiji reports.

Many local governments aren’t waiting. In a survey of 87 local governments that have introduced, or plan to introduce, some form of same-sex partnership recognition, 59% said they feel that the nation’s current system for sexual minorities is inadequate; none said it was good enough. Tokyo’s Adachi Ward last week began certifying LGBT couples and their kids as families, becoming the third municipality to do so.

Japanese lesbian couple overjoyed as landmark ruling paves way for same-sex marriage | SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST
Japanese lesbian couple overjoyed as landmark ruling paves way for same-sex marriage | SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

Days after the Sapporo ruling, the Mie assembly approved an ordinance banning anyone from revealing an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity without consent or good reason, a first for any prefecture in Japan.

The ban on “outing” applies from April 1, but it has now emerged that a Mie prefectural assemblyman revealed the names and postal address of a local same-sex couple on his blog without their consent and refused to delete the information last month.

As Philip Brasor notes in his Media Mix column, local ordinances can only do so much, and recent court rulings have made clear that the ball is now in the Diet’s court as regards same-sex marriage. And there it will stay for the foreseeable future, as the ruling Liberal Democratic Party has reportedly “sealed” any further discussion of the matter within the party.

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