In a heartwarming and historic move, Tokyo has issued Japan’s first ever same-sex marriage certificate.
Koyuki Higashi and Hiroko Masuhara were married Thursday morning in Tokyo’s Shibuya ward.
Hiroko said to Reuters, gushing with happiness: “I am exhilarated that the city I am living has recognized my partner as my family.”
Her partner, Koyuki was equally overjoyed: “I’m so happy, When they gave us the certificate, I cried. Our friends cried.”
Only two out of Japan’s 23 wards offer same-sex marriage certificates to it’s residents, Shibuya and Setagaya. However, businesses, hospitals and other such entities are not legally bound to acknowledge it. Essentially, the certificate is mostly symbolic, and is supposed to encourage businesses to grant rights equivalent to marriage.
Despite this, though, this is still a landmark step and hopefully the beginning of the road to change for Japan. At the moment, the country has no national laws protecting LGBT people from discrimination, and coming out can put your job and even your home at risk.
However, activists have pointed out that there is no large religious opposition to LGBT people in Japan, there is simply a lack of knowledge. So hopefully this can be the the first step in a road to improving visibility and education regarding the LGBT community.