Last February, Fukuoka City announced that the city would start recognizing same- sex unions from April 2nd. The city started accepting applications from March 20th.
And the good news is Anri Ishizaki, the representative of an LGBT support group, and his partner, Miho Yamashita, received a same-sex partnership certificate as the first same- sex union that is officially recognized by Fukuoka City.
The couple signed a written oath of partnership together at the city office and received a partnership certificate from Mayor Takashima. The driver’s-license-sized certificate enables same-sex unions to live in an apartment owned by the city and to be treated as family in hospitals. With recognition of same-sex partners, same-sex couples can visit their partner in a hospital and have a say in their partner’s medical treatment.
Mr. Ishizaki’s family registry is female, but now he lives as a man. Ms. Yamashita and Mr. Ishizaki have been together since 2007. They even had a wedding ceremony in 2008. however, social awareness of same-sex couples was so low at that time that they couldn’t invite their parents to their wedding. In 2013, they started living together, promising that they would support each other as family, but the fear that they might not be seen as family in a hospital if they had become seriously ill grew bigger and bigger.
“Our fear is gone now. We have lived together as family for long, but our society is celebrating us now. We are very happy,” said Mr. Ishizaki. However, we can’t forget the fact that same-sex unions are still not eligible for inheritance, family tax allowance, and survivor pension. “I hope our voices will reach a lot more people. I think that’s how things change,” said Mr. Ishizaki.
As of April 2nd, it seems five more couples have already applied. “We want to achieve better awareness of sexual diversity and want them to understand the importance of embracing it. We hope today is the first step toward achieving a city for everyone including LGBTQ people,” said a city official.