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Sapporo becomes largest city in Japan to recognise same-sex couples

Tokyo Rainbow Pride via Flickr

Sapporo has become the largest city in Japan to recognise same-sex couples.

The city, which has a population of over two million, has this month begun offering certificates called ‘partnership vows’ to allow same-sex couples over the age of 20 to get official recognition of their relationships.

“I am delighted,” said one 32-year-old woman who received a certificate under the new system.

“I was finally able to do it. It may be self-satisfaction but I want other people to use the system without caring what people around them think, because they can become happy.”

The city will also offer recognition to heterosexual relationships where at least one partner is non-binary.

Related: Osaka becomes first Japanese city to recognise a same-sex couple as foster parents

While the certificates don’t offer the same legal rights as marriage, they do allow partners to become recipients of each other’s life insurance and entitle them to family benefits such as discounts on mobile phone services.

Shibuya and Setagaya wards in Tokyo became the first places in Japan to offer same-sex couples recognition in 2015, followed by the cities of Iga, Takarazuka and Naha in 2016.

Same-sex marriage is currently not legal in the country, so the certificates act as a temporary and partial solution.

In March, the country legislated to protect school kids against bullying based on sexual orientation and gender identity, but also decided against teaching about LGBT+ issues for at least another 10 years.

While Japan continues to debate marriage equality, Taiwan last month became the first place in Asia to approve of same-sex marriage after a court ruled that their current marriage laws are unconstitutional.

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