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Today, we welcome the successful passage of Shibuya Ward’s Same-Sex Partnership Ordinance.

The effect of the ordinance, as the Head of Shibuya Ward himself has mentioned, is very limited. This new ordinance has no effect in relation to the benefits of marriage – such as the civil law, family register, social security, and taxes. Compared to same-sex partnership laws in foreign countries, this ordinance is quite different.

However, in Japan where same-sex partnerships are not legally recognized, this new, first-of-its-kind ordinance – in it’s recognition of same-sex couples – provides a great amount of support to those LGBT individuals and their families. It is a large step forward from the standpoints both of society as well as the government.

We often here these words: “Gay and lesbian people do not face discrimination living in Japan.” Of course, the number of LGBT individuals is small and living on their own, individuals essentially face no legal discrimination. However, when wanting to live with a partner as a same-sex couple, being unable to get married much like heterosexual men and women is something we can most certainly call legal discrimination.

For many sexual minorities, they realize that they are a sexual minority in adolescence. Rather than the well-wishes of friends and family in finding someone to love in the future, many come to think that they will be ridiculed and met with disgust. They then give up the idea of love or having a family and fall into despair with loss of all hope.

With Shibuya’s Same-Sex Partnership Ordinance, a warm message is sent to those who are not able to speak up. It will raise the self-esteem and self-affirmation of children who are sexual minorities. It’s an ordinance which seeks to establish human rights and with that it carries great meaning. We give it our highest regards.

The Preamble of the Japanese Constitution states, “We desire to occupy an honored place in an international society striving for the preservation of peace, and the banishment of tyranny and slavery, oppression and intolerance for all time from the earth. We recognize that all peoples of the world have the right to live in peace, free from fear and want.” Shibuya Ward’s ordinance is one that embodies this philosophy.

Outside of Japan, there are already approximately 40 countries which recognize same-sex marriage or same-sex partnerships. These countries make up roughly 50% of the global GDP. Unfortunately, we cannot say that Japan is included in these statistics. Therefore, we very much hope to see other local governments striving to follow suit with similar legislation and policies in the future.