Nintendo Japan Recognizes Same-Sex Marriages, in Defiance of Country’s Laws

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Gaming giant Nintendo said it will provide the same benefits to employees in domestic partnerships with a same-sex partner as those in opposite-sex unions — even though Japan outlaws gay marriage.

“We want to create a work environment that supports and empowers each and every one of our unique employees,” Nintendo Japan said in a July 12 update to its corporate social responsibility (CSR) guidelines.

Nintendo said it introduced the same-sex marriage policy in March 2021, but the company has now publicly acknowledged the change. In addition, according to Nintendo, the company revised its internal regulations regarding harassment to “clearly prohibit discriminatory comments based on sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as disclosing someone’s privately held sexual orientation against their will.”

“Although same-sex marriages are not currently recognized under Japanese law, this system ensures employees who are in a domestic partnership with a same-sex partner have the same benefits as employees in an opposite-sex marriage,” Nintendo’s CSR site explains. “We have also established that a common-law marriage between couples will be observed in the same way as a legal marriage.”

Currently, Japan is the only member of the G7 group of developed nations that does not recognize same-sex marriages. Last month, a district court in Osaka upheld Japan’s ban on same-sex marriages, ruling that the law does not violate the country’s constitution. Japan also requires transgender people to be “surgically sterilized if they want legal recognition of their gender identity,” per Human Rights Watch.

According to Nintendo, its code of conduct for employees already established that the company does not discriminate based on “race, ethnicity, nationality, ideology, religion, creed, origin, social status, class, occupation, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Alongside Nintendo Japan’s introduction of the same-sex partnership policy, the company said it notified employees about the issue of gender diversity with a message from president Shuntaro Furukawa “as a means of raising awareness of what diversity means.” In the message, Furukawa called for all employees “to adopt a renewed understanding that even speech and actions, which are not intended to harm, can cause significant emotional pain, asking for understanding and support to create an environment in which everyone can work comfortably.”

The Nintendo Japan policy update on same-sex unions was spotted by blog site Go Nintendo.