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Panasonic To Recognize Same-Sex Partnerships

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Panasonic will reportedly begin to recognize same-sex partnerships. The Japanese electronic giant’s move to acknowledge its employees’ same-sex partnerships comes as Panasonic is set to be a sponsor in the 2020 Olympics. 

The 2020 Olympics, which will be in Tokyo, include an anti-discrimination section in the charter, reports The Verge.

Panasonic’s decision to recognize same-sex couples puts it ahead of the traditionalist Japanese government, which has yet to do so.

The details of Panasonic’s same-sex partnership recognition remain unclear. While the company has not yet disclosed how its policy will affect its employees, it will likely include health care benefits and maternity leave for employees and their partners. 

“We are a global company, so we have already had cases in the United States and Europe, where homosexual employees were treated without discrimination,” said spokesperson for Panasonic Yayoi Watanabe.

Panasonic is one of the first corporations in Japan to recognize same-sex partnerships, reports Agence France-Presse. Gay couples throughout the country have complained of being barred from visiting sick partners in hospitals and trouble acquiring housing because their partnerships are not legally recognized. 

Only three regions in Japan currently grant legal certificates that recognize same-sex partnerships. The certificates granted are not considered valid outside of the area they were issued. 

Japan has had a tenuous relationship with same-sex partnership recognition in the last decade. Homosexuality was a taboo subject in Japan throughout the 20th century, and the governor of Tokyo referred to gay people as “deficient” as recently as 2011.

In the last five years, areas in Tokyo have begun to recognize same-sex marriage and some Japanese companies have moved to recognize their employees’ relationships. 

Japan has supported gay rights in the international arena, voting in the United Nations Human Rights Council for resolutions to end discrimination and violence due to sexual orientation, reports Human Rights Watch. 

Sources: AFP via France 24, Human Rights Watch, The Verge / Photo credit: Baycrest via Wikimedia Commons

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