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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Japan to Recognize Marriage Equality

Japan, which does not allow gay and lesbian citizens to marry, will now allow those citizens who legally marry foreigners abroad to have their marriages recognized in domestic law. The Japan Times reports:

The Justice Ministry plans to clear the path for Japanese nationals overseas to marry same-sex partners who are citizens of countries where such unions are legal, ministry sources said Thursday.

To marry foreigners abroad, all Japanese nationals, regardless of sexual orientation, must obtain certificates from the ministry by submitting documents that include their name, birth data, sex and nationality, and similar information about their marriage partner.

Under the latest decision, the ministry will issue a new type of certificate that only certifies that the person has reached legal marriage age and is single.

"We were not able to get (the ministry) to forgo the clarification of gender. But I want to hail the Justice Ministry's decision as a step forward (for gays)," said Taiga Ishikawa, who represents gay support group Peer Friends.

Ishikawa said Japanese gays were not able to marry even if their partner's country allowed same-sex marriage because the Justice Ministry would not issue the certificate.

"And without being married they were unable to obtain visas for their partners to live together," Ishikawa said.

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