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Japan's slow shift on LGBT+ rights under scrutiny as election nears

LDP members' attitudes spark controversy and raise stakes for advocates

Plaintiffs hold hands outside the Sapporo district court in northern Japan on March 17, 2021 after it ruled on the legality of same-sex marriages.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party-led coalition appears to have a clear path to victory in Sunday's upper house election. LGBT+ rights advocates and opposition politicians, meanwhile, see a road to equality laden with obstacles, and are using the campaign to raise awareness about the country's slow progress on same-sex marriage.

While some municipalities have adopted same-sex partnership systems in recent years, these are nonbinding, and Japan remains the only Group of Seven country that does not legally recognize such unions.

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