On February 16th, Iga City, Mie Prefecture, announced that they officially will start recognizing same-sex couples as equivalent to marriage in April.
Iga City is now the third municipality to recognize same-sex couples. Last year, Shibuya and Setagaya wards also introduced same-sex partnership certificates.
Iga City now aims to raise the awareness of sexual minority and show respect to their human rights.
Iga City introduced a system similar to Setagaya ward’s. Same-sex couples living in Iga City who are 20 or older 20 years old can apply for the same- sex partnership certificates after they submit official documents that prove they have taken a partnership oath. According to a local news website “Iga Town Information YOU,” unlike Setagaya ward, same-sex couples living in Iga City also need to submit official paperwork documenting their current address, their birthplaces, and their marital status as single.
After receiving the same-sex partnership certificate, same-sex couples will be treated as equivalent to married. The certificate will enable them to receive some benefits when seeking housing offered by Iga City, consult doctors together and sign a consent form of surgery in Iga City Ueno General Hospital. Iga City will also plan to hold seminars on sexual minority for private businesses to prevent discrimination in job recruitment and bathroom use.
The mayor of Iga City, Sakae Okamoto, said “Society with diversity is the society where every one of us can live safely and freely. This year, G7 Ise- Shima summit will take place in Iga City. Other developed countries have
already taken measures for sexual minority. Now is the time we all need to step forward and share this idea that is globally accepted as natural with people living in this city.”
One of the triggers that made Iga City decide to introduce same-sex partnership system is they discovered that approximately 5000 to 7000 living in Iga City are members of sexual minority according to an LGBT consensus,conducted by Dentsu in 2015, that shows 7.6% of the Japanese population identifies as LGBT. Shortly after that, a project team was launched and decided to introduce the system.