Sapporo City to certify same-sex partnership starting this June.

“Sapporo TV Tower”, the symbol of Sapporo City, is illuminated as rainbow in pride season

On March 30th, Sapporo City announced the city will issue certificates that officially recognize same-sex partnership from this June. “Sapporo Partnership” was planned to be brought into effect this April, but it was postponed so that the city could have some time to make everyone in the city informed about it. The partnership system could have been mistaken for a system equivalent as marriage, so the city decided to explain the same-sex partnership certificate on its official website and PR magazine. For the recipients’ privacy, all the procedures will be performed inside the main building of Sapporo City Office.

Same-sex couples who hope to receive the partnership certificate need to submit a written oath with their signatures on it. After the submission, the city will give them a copy of the written oath and the certificate. For your information, the city will issue partnership certificates to not only same-sex couple, but also heterosexual couples with gender dysphoria. Transgender people do not have to use their birth name, so they can use the name they daily use for the certificate.

It is not legally binding, but same-sex couples will be able to apply for housing loans together and their hospital visitation right will be protected in case of emergency.

The city is planning to launch a telephone consultation service for LGBTQ people and work together with LGBTQ organizations and support groups.

Sapporo City will be the first major city that issues partnership certificates to LGBTQ people in Japan. Shibuya and Setagaya Wards, Tokyo stated to issue partnership certificates in 2015, followed by Iga City in Mie, Takarazuka City in Hyogo, and Naha City in Okinawa. The population of Sapporo City (19.6 million) is much larger than the total population of the five cities (17.3 million), so the impact is expected to be big. In total, about 3% of Japanese population will have access to the certificate.

Sapporo Partnership received backlash at first. However, the city received as many as 1600 supportive emails and FAX for the implementation of the system. That was the clincher. I want to say “Congratulations!” to the LGBTQ community in Sapporo City and to all the supporters that made this happen.