The assembly of Tokyo, Japan's Shibuya
ward on Tuesday approved a plan to recognize the relationships of gay
and lesbian couples as the “equivalent of a marriage.”
According to the AP, a majority of the
ward's 34 legislators favored the proposal, which only applies to
Shibuya – a dense district known as a fashion center that is home
to more than 217,000 residents – and is technically not legally
binding. Enforcement will consist of making public the names of
Mayor Toshitake Kuwahara told reporters
recently that the legislation's purpose “is to realize a society
where everyone can live in hope.”
Lesbian couple Koyuki Higashi and
Hiroko Masuhara (pictured) said that they moved to Shibuya four
months ago in anticipation that they could marry.
“To marry the same sex is no
different from marrying the opposite sex,” said Higashi.
Shibuya will become the first
municipality in Japan to recognize such unions when the measure takes
effect in July.