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Man sues gov't seeking bereaved family funding over same-sex partner's 2014 murder

NAGOYA -- A man here has filed a lawsuit against the Aichi Prefectural Government seeking the payment of benefits for bereaved families of crime victims, arguing that the decision made last year by a prefectural commission to deny him the payment was illegal.

His lawyers say the lawsuit appears to be the first of its kind in which an individual is seeking such a payment in connection with his same-sex partner.

Yasuhide Uchiyama, 43, took legal action at the Nagoya District Court on July 9 over the death of his 52-year-old partner who was murdered at their home in December 2014. Uchiyama applied to the Aichi Prefectural Public Safety Commission to receive benefits for crime victims in December 2016. After his request was denied in December 2017, he filed a complaint to the National Public Safety Commission. The perpetrator of the murder is in prison.

The payment of benefits for bereaved families is issued by the state to support relatives of the deceased, and in some cases the injured. The law on compensating crime victims provides that benefits are awarded to those including a partner "who was in a situation close to that of a marital relationship." Lawyers for Uchiyama state that the prefectural commission did not recognize Uchiyama as the murder victim's partner, and explained that "common-law couples are based on relationships between men and women."

Uchiyama started living under the same roof as the victim's partner around 1994, and his elderly mother in need of care joined them from 2010. In the criminal trial of the 2014 murder case, the district court recognized the two men had been "in a relationship close to that of a marital relationship."

"The two were common-law couples. The crime victim compensation law says nothing on the sex of the recipient," his lawyers argued, adding, "If the (prefectural commission's) decision was made based on discrimination, it is unacceptable. This lawsuit may have an effect on other related cases, such as the annual pension."

Uchiyama held a press conference under his own name, because "the lawsuit could have a huge effect on the LGBT community facing the same problem." He pleaded, "The sudden loss of a loved one is painful no matter your sex, so please do not discriminate against my feeling of grief toward my lost husband."

The Aichi Prefectural Public Safety Commission says it is unable to confirm the lawsuit was filed.

(Japanese original by Ayuko Nomura, Nagoya News Center)

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