A Japanese gay man has taken legal action after he was barred from his partner’s cremation and not receiving inheritance.
The move is a historic one in Japan which only recognizes same-sex partnerships in some prefectures in the country.
The 69-year-old from Osaka Prefecture filed a proceedings against his partner’s sister for inheritance he is owed. He is also suing her for barring him from attending his partner’s cremation.
His partner died in March 2016 and he’s suing his sister-in-law for 7 million yen (US$64,000) in damages.
The man is arguing she ‘robbed’ him of being able to plan the funeral and that he was discriminated against because of his sexuality.
‘I am dissatisfied that I am not legally protected on the grounds that we were a same-sex couple,’ the man told media.
The two men had been in a relationship since 1971. They had agreed they would inherit each other’s assets when one of them passed away.
But after the man’s partner died, his sister closed his business and automatically inherited her brother’s assets.
The woman’s lawyer said the 69-year-old man ‘absolutely no rights’.
‘There seems to be discrimination against gay people even before the legal hurdles,’ Kazuyuki Minami, the man’s lawyer told Japan Times.
‘If a same-sex marriage system is established, it would not only ensure the rights of partners but also help resolve irrational discrimination.’
Same-sex couples can register their relationships in eight prefectures in Japan. The registration allows them to have equal rights as heterosexual couples such as; inheritance, hospital visitation and spousal support payments.
The man’s legal action could pave the way to change Japanese laws for same-sex couples.
The most recent city to recognize same-sex couples was Fukuoka, one of Japan’s biggest cities.
‘I will consider the introduction of a support framework for sexual minorities that includes a partnership system, with the intention of creating a more inclusive society that recognizes diversity,’ said Fukuoka Mayor Takashima last year.