International News Highlights — November 11, 2022

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Same-sex couples at Tokyo metropolitan government — Photo by Mari Yamaguchi / AP
Same-sex couples at Tokyo metropolitan government — Photo by Mari Yamaguchi / AP

Small victory in big Tokyo
In 2015, a single district in Tokyo became the first part of Japan to recognize same-sex partnerships. Now, seven years later, the rest of Tokyo is catching up, becoming the country's largest municipality to issue certificates recognizing same-sex couples.

Same-sex marriage isn't allowed yet, and the certificates aren't legally binding, but they do afford same-sex couples important benefits. They can apply for housing as a couple, access medical data, and become beneficiaries on auto and life insurance policies.

"With this [certificate], there is no need to explain, and I think I will be able to talk to other people about the relationship between myself and my partner with a bit more confidence," said activist Soyoka Yamamoto. She and her partner had been living together for over 10 years.

"Our goal is to use the certificate as a springboard for achieving a society where the rights of sexual minorities are protected," Yamamoto said at a news conference.

Trans activist Fumino Sugiyama said of the development, "Until now, all the systems, rules, and services in Japan has been formed as if LGBTQ+ people are invisible in this society, and Tokyo's system has been the same."

Miss Argentina marries Miss Puerto Rico
Former beauty queens Fabila Valentín of Puerto Rico and Mariana Valera of Argentina announced on Instagram that they had secretly married.

"After deciding to keep our relationship private," the pair wrote, "we're opening the doors on this special day, 28/10/22."

Valentín and Valera met in Thailand in 2020, where both were competing in the Miss Grand International competition. Since then, they've often posted on social media together but never mentioned marriage.

Their announcement includes a video of picturesque moments in their relationship, like romantic vacation getaways with beautiful sunsets, a proposal in gold and silver balloons, and the pair dressed in white and kissing outside a courthouse in San Juan.

The news was met with celebration on social media from Latin American LGBTQ communities, many of whose home countries have only just begun to make strides toward marriage equality.

"Thank you for all the love! We're very happy and joyful," wrote Valera in response to the support. "I am sending you all back the love you are giving us."