Japanese city becomes first to officially recognise same-sex foster parents
A city in Japan has become the first to recognise a first same-sex couple as foster parents.
The gay couple in Osaka, who are in their 40s and 30s, has now officially fostered a teenage boy, who has been living with them since February.
The older of the two men – who asked not to be named – welcomed the decision, saying: “I am happy we became foster parents [and recognised] as a single household, not just as individuals.
Their foster child is now “living a comfortable life,” he told Tokyo outlet Kyodo News.
The partners originally registered their intent to foster a child in autumn 2015 and had to undergo a series of lectures and training and other scrutiny by authorities, including social welfare tests.
The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare confirmed that there was “no precedent” for a same-sex couple being certified as foster parents.
Same-sex fostering is not banned in Japan, but simply does not happen – until now.
The latest government data indicated 3,704 foster parent households nationwide, with the vast majority being straight married couples, and the rest made up by single parents.
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Osaka, Japan’s third-biggest city, hosts an annual pride parade, while Kanako Otsuji, the first openly lesbian politician in the country, came out after being appointed to the city’s Prefectural Assembly.
In 2013, a local government ward in Osaka was the first Japanese district to officially support LGBT rights.
In the last few months, Japan has seen several steps towards LGBT equality.
Same-sex marriage is not legal in Japan, but nevertheless, the first surviving same-sex spousal benefit application was filed in the country earlier this year.
And from June, Sapporo, a city with nearly two million people, will become the largest in the country to issue formal recognition to same-sex couples.