TSU, Japan - The city of Iga in central Japan said Thursday that it will recognise same-sex partnerships as equivalent to marriage, becoming the third local government to take a step to eliminate discrimination against sexual minorities.
The city in Mie Prefecture will issue certificates starting April 1, following Tokyo's Shibuya and Setagaya wards, which introduced similar systems last year. Several other municipalities in the country are expected to follow suit.
Same-sex marriages are not legal in Japan, and couples often face difficulties when looking for housing or visiting a partner in hospital as they are not considered family members.
"It is a step forward to realise a diverse society," Iga Mayor Sakae Okamoto said in a notice posted in front of the city hall.
Mie is to host this year's Group of Seven summit. "Addressing the human rights issue of LGBT people from a global perspective is very meaningful," Okamoto said, referring to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.
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