Just in time for Pride Month, the city of Sapporo has become the first major city in Japan to officially recognize same-sex relationships on Thursday.
Sapporo has also become the first municipality in Japan to certify partnerships between heterosexual couples with gender-identity disorder.
“I am delighted,” a 32-year-old woman said after receiving the recognition of same-sex partnership under the system, according to Kyodo News. “I was finally able to do it. It may be self-satisfaction but I want other people to use the system without caring what people around them think as they can become happy.”
Couples must sign a “partnership vow” in order to receive copies of their vow and a receipt from the city in northern Japan.
While the documents do not grant legal rights or obligations, same-sex couples will be able to receive life insurance money and use family member discounts for mobile devices and other services.
Sapporo is not the first place in Japan to recognize lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender couples.
In 2015, Shibuya and Setagaya wards in Tokyo began the system which is applied only to couples with the same sex in the family register.
The cities of Iga, Takarazuka and Naha followed suit in 2016.
This is certainly another step in the right direction, but there is long way to go before same-sex marriage is legal.
A 2016 report from the Human Rights Watch (HRW) claimed that the Japanese government is not doing much to protect its LGBT+ students from bullying and harassment at school.
According to Gay Times Magazine, Kanae Doi, Japan Director at HRW, said: “The Japanese government has made gestures of support to LGBT students in recent years, but national anti-bullying policies remain silent on sexual orientation and gender identity.”