On July 9th, a gay man whose partner was murdered filed a lawsuit, asking for survivors benefits for victims of crime after Aichi Prefecture rejected his application.
In December, 2014, Hideaki Mizuno, aged 52 who lived in Nagoya city, was murdered. The killer was condemned to fourteen years in prison. Yasuhide Uchiyama, aged 43, had lived with his deceased partner for twenty years when he was murdered. The couple also started to live with his mother in 2010. They had lived together long enough to be considered as in a domestic relationship, so Mr. Uchiyama applied for survivors benefits for victims of crime in December, 2016. However, Aichi Prefecture rejected his application in December, 2017.
※”Hanzai Hinai Kyuju Seido” (Benefits for victims of crime) : In this system, victims of crime and their family members are financially aided by the government. Each prefecture can decide the amount of payment and who is eligible for the benefits. Survivors Benefits for victims of crime financially support survivors of victims of crime such as their partner, their children, their parents and grandparents, and their siblings. In 2015, there were 256 applicants in total in Japan, and 242 of them received the benefits. The applicants received 5.1million yen on average that year.
National Police Agency says that they do not deal with anyone on a individual basis, but they also say it is reasonable for same-sex partners to be considered as non-family members and their relationships may not be regarded as domestic ones because gay marriage is not legal in Japan.
Aichi Prefecture keeps its stance that they do not deal with anyone on a individual basis.
“How they live and how they see each other are more important than legal status in western countries when it comes to partnerships. The government needs to think again about how the laws and governmental systems should be applied and it needs to be changed,” said Hidemichi Morosawa, a former dean of Tokiwa University.
Mr. Uchiyama’s lawyer criticized the prefecture, saying “it doesn’t matter if you are gay or straight when you lose someone you love through homicide. He would have received the benefits if his deceased partner had been a woman. That is not fair. The purpose of survivors benefits for victims of crime is to support family members of victims of crime. Same-sex couples should not be treated unfairly.”
Mr. Kamiya from Japan Alliance for LGBT Legislation(J-ALL) said “the visibility and acceptance of LGBTQ is growing in the fields of business and politics. The government needs to understand family can take a variety of forms and reconsider the system in order to make sure that the system can support all the survivors.“
Mr. Uchiyama filed a lawsuit to receive the benefits.
“The decision to deny him the benefits could be based on discrimination against same-sex couples, which can never be tolerated. The law does not say couples who can apply for the benefits must consist of a man and a woman. Mr. Uchiyama would have been considered as in a domestic relationship and received the benefits if his partner had been a woman. This could bring bad influence on LGBTQ people’s pension problems,“ said Mr. Uchiyama and his lawyer in the press.
“It doesn’t matter if you are gay or straight when you lose someone you love. It kills you. Please don’t tell me my pain of loss is less important just because I’m gay.”