As of April 2021, LGBTQ+ couples and their children can be certified as family in the Tokyo ward of Adachi. Kyodo News reports that this is the first time a Tokyo municipality is recognising children of LGBTQ+ couples – biological or adopted – as family members.
Adachi is among the most recent Japanese towns and municipalities to ratify civil partnerships for LGBTQ+ couples. All unmarried couples of age who reside in Adachi (including foreign nationals) are eligible to register.
The partnership system has received some criticism in Japan for not including the same rights as heterosexual marriage; same-sex marriage has yet to be legalised in Japan. But with more officials working to address the disadvantages same-sex couples face, Adachi’s new system could put it one step ahead of other municipalities in Tokyo.
The lack of legal recognition for non-heterosexual couples in Japan prevents LGBTQ+ individuals from inheriting a partner’s assets, gaining child custody or getting hospital visitation rights. It also complicates the basic proceedings of signing a real estate contract to secure housing. Under Adachi’s new system, however, local real estate agencies, schools and hospitals are asked to treat same-sex couples the same as married couples.
It’s not a perfect solution for same-sex couples who are seeking for their marriage to be legally recognised. However, as a Sapporo court recently ruled that the lack of legal recognition for same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, LGBTQ+ activists now have a reason to be hopeful about better equality for the future.
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