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Japan court rules country’s gay marriage ban is unconstitutional

The court also said that "enacting same-sex marriage does not seem to cause disadvantages or harmful effects"

By Alastair James

Thai gay marriage
The Thai parliament has moved the country closer to legalising gay marriage (Image: Pexels)

A ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional, a high court in Japan has ruled.

On Thursday (14 March) a court in the northern city of Sapporo gave its ruling adding further pressure on the G7 nation to legalise gay marriage. Japan is still the only G7 nation that doesn’t allow gay marriage.

The court also said the ban was “discriminatory” and that “enacting same-sex marriage does not seem to cause disadvantages or harmful effects.” After the verdict, a plaintiff in the case the court heard from, Eri Nakaya, said: “It was a long-awaited, delightful ruling which makes me cry,” as per Reuters. A lawyer has also said the plaintiffs are considering going to the Supreme Court next.

Also on Thursday, a district court in Tokyo district ruled that the gay marriage ban was unconstitutional.

Thursday’s decisions are the latest to describe the current ban as such. In May 2023, the Nagoya District Court came to a similar ruling. That followed another ruling in Tokyo in 2022 that also ruled the ban was a violation of human rights.

A 2023 survey in the country found that 64% of people in Japan support gay marriage. Japan’s main opposition party, the Constitutional Democratic Party, also entered a bill to legalise gay marriage. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party led by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has opposed gay marriage.

In the past, Kishida has said that gay marriage would “change society,” so lawmakers should be “extremely careful in considering the matter.”

Currently, Japan’s constitution says that “marriage shall be only with the mutual consent of both sexes.” LGBTQ couples in the country can only have civil unions in certain regions. However, partners aren’t able to inherit assets or adopt children.