A Taiwanese man living in Japan has just discovered one of the worst parts of living without same-sex marriage. The man, known to the media as Mr. G to protect his privacy, is being deported for overstaying his visa. However, if Mr. G were straight, he could marry his partner, which would keep him in Japan. What’s a gay visa holder to do?
Mr. G has been living in Japan since 1994 — over 20 years. In 1994, he met his partner and moved in with him. Unfortunately, this last year, he was arrested for overstaying. As it stands now, Mr. G is prohibited from working and will soon be deported back to Taiwan.
However, in Japan, it’s not uncommon for the government to nullify deportation orders if they can show they’ve led a stable life with their (heterosexual) Japanese partner. And, of course, heterosexual couples always have the option of getting married so the non-Japanese partner can get a spouse visa.
Unfortunately, since Japan doesn’t have same-sex marriage, that’s not an option for Mr. G. So, even though Mr. G’s been living in Japan with his partner for over two decades and is estranged from his Taiwanese, he may be out of luck. However, Mr. G is suing the government to have his deportation order nullified.
Yasushi Nagano, one of Mr. G’s lawyers, said “Considering his long-running stable life in Japan and his health, he should not be forced to separate from his partner. Their relationship should be protected by the constitutionally guaranteed equality before the law and the rights to the pursuit of happiness.”
Mr. G is also HIV positive, and has been receiving treatment in Japan.
A number of same-sex international couples met in support of Mr. G. Ai Nakajima, a Japanese woman living with Kristina Baumann from Germany said:
My partner may face the threat of deportation if she loses her job. We are always haunted by such concerns, although we hope we could continue living together in Japan. We are recognized as partners in Germany, but our relationship means nothing here. We hope same-sex marriages or same-sex partnerships will be legalized soon so foreign same-sex partners will be granted resident status.
The good news is that Mr. G has a strong case. In 1997, Tokyo’s High Court ruled that government authorities must give due consideration to minorities, including gay people.
Ken Suzuki, a law professor and LGBTQ activist, says the government’s actions are discriminatory. He also expects Mr. G’s case to become a landmark case, and will “lead to improving the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and [transgender people].”
While Japan doesn’t have marriage equality as a whole, six local governments recognize same-sex partnerships, granting homosexual couples the same rights to local services as heterosexual married couples.
Featured image by baona via iStock