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Japanese court rules gay marriage ban is constitutional

Japan is the only member of the G7 nations to not legalise same-sex marriage.

2022-06-24

Words: Emily Maskell; pictures: Pexels

On Monday (20 June) a district court in Osaka, Japan ruled that the ban on same-sex marriage does not violate the constitution.

Three same-sex couples had filed the case in a district court in Osaka, only the second case of its kind to ever be heard in Japan.

As well as their claim that being unable to marry was unconstitutional, the court also threw out their petition for 1 million yen ($7,400) for each couple in damages for suffering "unjust discrimination", as reported by the BBC.

This decision comes after a district court in Sapporo ruled that the failure to recognise same-sex marriage was "unconstitutional" in 2021.

Japan’s constitution defines marriage as being based on "the mutual consent of both sexes" and under current Japanese law same-sex couples cannot legally marry, can't inherit their partner's assets, and they have no parental rights over their partner's children.

"From the perspective of individual dignity, it can be said that it is necessary to realise the benefits of same-sex couples being publicly recognised through official recognition," the court said in its ruling.

"Public debate on what kind of system is appropriate for this has not been thoroughly carried out," the statement continued.

The BBC reports that opinion polls show a majority of the general public is in favour of allowing same-sex marriage.

The court also referenced this public debate about same-sex marriage and noted that "it may be possible to create a new system" that recognised same-sex couples.

Lawyer Akiyoshi Miwa told Reuters they would appeal the court’s "disappointing” decision"

They added: "We emphasized in this case that we wanted same-sex couples to have access to the same things as regular couples."

Plaintiff Machi Sakata added: "I actually wonder if the legal system in this country is really working… I think there’s the possibility this ruling may really corner us."

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