Sexual minorities still struggling five years after LGBT ordinance

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10/10/2020

Miho Okada experienced the frustrating limits of measures introduced to protect the rights of same-sex couples when her lesbian partner was hospitalized with advanced rectal cancer in Aomori Prefecture. Although Okada, 36, and Shoko Usami are certified as being in a “same-sex union” at the local level elsewhere in the country, the hospital said that “only the patient’s relatives will be notified in an emergency.” Okada contacted a lawyer for talks with the hospital operator, but it refused to change its position. Although dozens of municipalities are certifying same-gender partnerships, the central government has maintained its stance against recognizing same-sex marriages. The lack of a national law or system protecting the rights of these couples has led to what Okada describes as “an inappropriate (situation) of being granted different rights in different areas.”

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