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However, Japanese judges will not consider marriage applications until 4 April
Same-sex couples in Japan will finally be able to wed in a few weeks, the government has announced, even as it signals a delay in delivering the final legislation.
A law signed by the prime minister, Shinzo Abe, said the marriage eligibility for same-sex couples would be made official at an unspecified time this month, after six years of moves to legalise same-sex marriage.
Only those having registered under a previous equality bill would be eligible to receive the blessing, marriage certificates, and government support for the ceremony on Friday, 1 February.
Those with no permission to marry could apply to get married by 16 April, the government said.
Japan’s supreme court said last year that gay couples have the right to marry, but the ruling came too late for many couples, who were forced to wait and remarry when marriage equality was finally passed in June.
That parliament is taking so long to make marriage equality law is unusual in Japan, where in the previous parliament there was no parliamentary debate on same-sex marriage.
Abe’s New Komeito coalition (one of five factions in the lower house) had previously split over the issue, but all sides have since agreed to push for marriage equality.
Japan legalises ‘same-sex marriage’ despite opposition Read more
A minor legal snafu, which could add to the political struggle, means the couple-matching and declaration paperwork will not be available until 4 April, on the same day as marriage certificates.
Ministers said that would allow enough time for two exceptions – one on 14 February and another on 6 April – when the government would issue marriage certificates only for couples with permission to marry from local authorities.
Court orders will not be recognised and couples must be fingerprinted to ensure only the registered couple is recognised.
The lack of legal recognition of same-sex marriage in Japan has led to a number of court orders over the years, allowing homosexual couples to marry in symbolic ceremonies.