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Japan: LGBT community takes steps towards marriage equality

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Members of Japan’s LGBTIQ community have taken preliminary steps towards legal action and legislative change of discriminatory marriage law.

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According to The Japan Times, 455 LGBT signatories have signed a petition which posits that Japan is denying human rights by not allowing same-sex marriage. The document was filed with the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA), Japan’s largest bar association.

The document argues that the government is refusing LGBT Japanese people of their individual dignity, with reference to their constitutional right to equality.

Same-sex marriage is not technically illegal by Japanese law, however there is no current pathway to apply for a marriage licence for same-sex couples. Currently only the Shibuya region of Tokyo officially recognises same-sex relationships.

Japanese LGBT couples are still face many obstacles, not being able to name their partners in their legal will or combine health insurance. There are also no protections, such as spousal visas, in place for foreign same-sex partners of Japanese citizens.

Should the JFBA identify a breach of constitutional rights, the Japanese government will be officially warned.

JFBA lawyer Toshimasa Yamashita believes that while an official warning does not force the government’s hand, it will be an important reference point for all future cases on the issue of marriage equality.

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