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Osaka becomes the first Japanese city to recognize a same-sex couple as foster parents

  • April 6, 2017
  • , The Japan Times
  • English Press

OSAKA – The city of Osaka has officially recognized a same-sex couple as foster parents, becoming the first municipality in the nation to do so, local and central government officials said Wednesday.


The city government formally recognized two men, one in his 40s and a partner in his 30s, as foster parents. The couple, who asked not to be identified along with a teenage boy under their care, has been living with the boy since February.


The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said there is “no precedent” for a same-sex couple being certified as foster parents.


The city granted the couple’s request to become guardians after determining that the two understood the foster care system and had the financial wherewithal to raise a child.


The move comes amid a growing recognition among the public of the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, with some local governments already legally recognizing same-sex partnerships.


But there are still arguments against allowing LGBT people to raise a child, and traditionally only married couples or individuals have been allowed to become foster parents.


“I am happy we became foster parents (and recognized) as a single household, not just as individuals,” the older of the two men said, adding the boy is now “living a comfortable life.”


Previously, two women in the Kanto region were recognized a being eligible to be foster parents, but as individuals, after which they together raised a child.


In the current case, the male couple consulted the city of Osaka’s child consultation center in autumn of 2015 about becoming foster parents.


After undergoing lectures, training and scrutiny by the center, as well as screening by the city’s social welfare panel, the couple was officially recognized on Dec. 22, 2016 as foster parents allowed to take charge of a child under 18.


There is no legal provision within Japanese law excluding a same-sex couple from being foster parents. But as of March 1, 2015, of the 3,704 foster parent households nationwide, 3,216 households were those of married couples while the remaining 488 were single-parent households, government data shows.

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