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Japanese court rules same-sex marriage ban is NOT unconstitutional in blow to gay rights campaigners

Japanese court rules same-sex marriage ban is NOT unconstitutional and a blow to gay rights activists

  • A Japanese court ruled that a gay marriage ban was not unconstitutional
  • The court also rejected the complainants’ claims for damages of 1 million yen
  • The case, the first of its kind to be heard in Japan, was filed by three same-sex couples
  • Japan becomes only G7 country not to allow same-sex marriage

A Japanese court has ruled that a gay marriage ban is not unconstitutional in a blow to gay rights activists.

Three same-sex couples – two men and a woman – had brought the case before the Osaka District Court in Japan. that’s the only seven nation group that doesn’t allow same-sex marriages.

The court not only rejected their claim that not being able to marry was unconstitutional, but also dismissed their claims of 1 million yen ($7,414) in damages for each couple.

It was not immediately clear whether the plaintiffs planned to appeal the case, only the second to be heard on the matter in Japan.

“This is horrific, just horrific,” an unidentified female prosecutor said outside the courthouse in footage shown on public broadcaster NHK after the verdict, with a crackling voice.

The ruling destroys activists’ hopes to put pressure on the Japanese government to address the issue after a court in Sapporo ruled in favor in March 2021 in favor of a claim that not allowing same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

Three same-sex couples - two men and a woman - had brought the case before the Osaka District Court in Japan (pictured,

Three same-sex couples – two men and a woman – had filed the case in the Osaka district court in Japan (photo, gay rights activists outside the Sapporo district court in March 2021)

The ruling sparked a wave of social media reaction in the country, where public support for same-sex marriage has risen in opinion polls.

“Unbelievable,” tweeted a lawyer working on a third case on the matter pending in Tokyo, with a ruling to follow later this year.

The Japanese constitution defines marriage as based on ‘the mutual consent of both sexes’.

But the introduction of same-sex partnership rights in the Tokyo capital last week, along with growing support in polls, had boosted activists and lawyers’ hopes for the Osaka case.

Japanese law is considered relatively liberal in some areas by Asian standards, but across the continent, only Taiwan has legalized same-sex marriage so far.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs, surrounded by rainbow flags, held up a sign in March 2021 declaring the ruling

Lawyers for the plaintiffs, surrounded by rainbow flags, held up a sign in March 2021 declaring the ruling “a huge step towards marriage equality.”

Under current rules in Japan, same-sex couples cannot legally marry, cannot inherit their partner’s assets — such as the house they may have shared — nor do they have parental rights over their partner’s children.

While partnership certificates issued by some separate municipalities help same-sex couples rent a home together and receive hospital visits, they do not give them the full legal rights that heterosexual couples enjoy.

Last week, the Tokyo prefectural government passed a bill to recognize same-sex partnership agreements — meaning more than half of Japan’s population is now covered by such agreements.

While Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said the issue “must be carefully considered,” his ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has not disclosed plans to review the issue or propose legislation, although some senior LDP figures favor reforms.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (pictured) has said the issue

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (pictured) has said the issue “must be carefully considered.”

The upcoming Tokyo case means public debate on the issue will continue, especially in the capital where a poll by the government of Tokyo late last year found about 70 percent in favor of same-sex marriage.

Legalizing same-sex marriage would have far-reaching consequences, both socially and economically, activists say, by making it easier for companies to attract and retain talented workers, and even by sending foreign companies into the world’s third-largest economy. to lure.

“If Japan wants to regain a leadership position in Asia, it now has a very good chance,” said Masa Yanagisawa, head of Prime Services at Goldman Sachs and board member of the ‘Marriage for all Japan’ campaign group. prior to the Osaka verdict.

“Global companies are rethinking their Asian strategy and LGBTQ inclusiveness is becoming an issue… International companies don’t want to invest in a location that isn’t LGBTQ-friendly.”

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