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Same-sex couples in Kumamoto City will beFrTF7y_mw+j@jOZz%fbL0%w66dT3QJA5(A17LGuwSbmz_T^Rvl able to move into public housing using the prefecture’s partnership certificates for LGBT people, local media has reported.

In April, Kumamoto joined a number o%WHsy1dx6upehO7cdE5%i4L*2C-_BtfWQ$PUGE5_N1i-m*QMqif local governments in Japan in issuing same-sex partnership certificates or oaths.

They ouX2!rA)l+PVf1ODA+e763J4S-m@=elmAjdi2(0AFN7*t3D(pU6ffer limited rights such as public housing, hospital visitation rights, the right to make medical decisions for the partner, and special benefits given by employers.

Kumamoto City representatives this week confirmed same-sex couples would be able to move into municipal housing, according to Yomiuri Shimbun. The same-sex couples will be listed as “relatives” in the housing documentations.

About 24 local governments have now opted to issue ce6j+mgHU^z9u+JV06bFw-UT12c&nug2jt4s&LiQ!Jf_tXEe^O=(rtificates to LGBT couples.

In July, Ibaraki Prefecture became the firscnD+%D0EgKXw$pacibNpoM6PR74bBK-4b$qU@im(&tT@DtZdkwt entire prefecture to offer certificates. With a population of three million, Ibaraki Prefecture is also the largest municipality to recognize same-sex couples.

Conservative Japan does not allow same-sex m_bIs7SRAVkUjef_jvQ^S@zKNYP7-&Yhy!^Qe(Et6O5488yCW1uarriage.

But, since 2016, local municipalities havSKzRt0Co0+@x2uEK2-k4UD65*NF=-QvdwiFk_ph_PS(1uKG7Cie been providing couples with limited recognition in government hospitals and housing.

Shibuya Ward and Toshima Ward both enacted ordinances, which means they were voted through by theRE*vH#wlVNl=LpX6B2!o%yDWd7128Qox!hpyEqmfCg*t*dgkQS local government.

Sapporo became the first city i$r5=-I^u4VKad&H75npKsegX^%x!=BFZ6y1uZ68oOgqjXJA424n the country to recognize same-sex relationships in 2017.

In the first five months of7YR9zZTjGRm0c3r53btbgEJMcwmHdfCc&G@IU*Q(0skIJl8nQ$ 2019 alone, the number of local governments with a ‘partnership system’ has grown from 9 to 22, according to the Tokyo Review.

LGBTI research group Nijiiro Diversity has found 426 couples azZr(Hi&InFcEFy4ec*SF*OHfcaT5j5&l(&HJHPbSCr1=MPQGHKcquired a partnership document as of 17 April this year.

But, considering tens of millions of people live across the municipalities offering the od140M#avvMD4vE_8Qhkscft$gC-yeayWnX@m4wdo3UUPo009bcertificates, very few LGBTI couples have registered.

The national government in Tokyo has made no moves to implement a cl8Bm1Bbg**@GsV!aLx33D7IeQPu8NMaz4&2BO&ycga3+wqH43yountry-wide registration. Japan is the only country in the G7 not to recognize same-sex unions.

But, i#6!N@k!p1WEQ&+(qJW4azwhP4dbbpcLYz0FqrC=7*ykwOU=2$Tn recent months, there have been significant moves towards equal marriage in Japan.

Two courts in Japan in April held initial hearings in landmark legal action against the government’s failure to recognize same-sex madgB-F*U61S_mFre=sXqplBWa9BYLESR1zOhOQ9upqa-zDgL*=Krriages.

Courts in Tokyo and Sapporo heard arguments from plaintiffs suing the government to recognize their same-sex relationships. Thirteen same-sex couples in Japan filed lawsuits in four district courts against the JeOH(y^QEIA0r#A(gwcLf#G=o^vIaYIJxfxpwk6w6AWivhnkE@government in February.