An Osaka court ruling has struck at the rights of LGBTQ people in Japan, the only G-7 nation to ban same-sex marriage.
An Osaka court has ruled that Japan’s ban on same-sex marriage is not “unconstitutional.”
Monday’s decision failed LGBTQ activists in the only nation in the Group of Seven that does not allow same-sex people to marry.
Three same-sex couples – two men and a woman – had filed the case in Osaka District Court, with only the latter heard in Japan. In addition to dismissing their claim that the inability to marry is unconstitutional, the court also rejected their claims for 1 million yen ($ 7,414) in compensation for each couple.
“It’s awful, just awful,” an unidentified plaintiff told the court of footage shown on public broadcaster NHK after the ruling, her voice cracking. It was not immediately clear whether the plaintiffs planned to appeal.
The solution contrasts with a decision of the court in Sapporo in March 2021, which ruled that the ban on same-sex marriage was “unconstitutional.”
This shattered activists’ hopes of increasing pressure on the government to solve the problem through legislation and sparked a wave of comments on social media in the country, where public support for same-sex marriage is growing in opinion polls.
“Unbelievable,” a lawyer working on the third case on the issue in Tokyo wrote on Twitter, with the verdict due later this year.
The Japanese constitution defines marriage as based on “mutual consent of both sexes.” But the introduction of partnership rights for same-sex couples in the Tokyo capital last week, along with growing support for opinion polls, has 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 marriages so far. Under current rules in Japan, same-sex couples are not allowed to marry legally, they cannot inherit their partner’s property – such as the house they may have shared – and they also do not have parental rights over the partner’s children. you are.
Although partnership certificates issued by some individual municipalities help same-sex couples to rent a place together and have the right to visit a hospital, they do not give them the full legal rights enjoyed by heterosexual couples.
Last week, the Tokyo prefecture government passed a bill recognizing same-sex partnership agreements – meaning that more than half of Japan’s population is now covered by such agreements.
While Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the issue should be “carefully considered”, his ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has revealed no plans to review the issue or propose legislation, although some senior LDP figures support the reform.
The forthcoming case in Tokyo means that the public debate on the issue will continue, especially in the capital, where a poll conducted by the Tokyo government at the end of last year found that about 70 percent are in favor of same-sex marriage.
Legalizing same-sex marriage would have far-reaching consequences, both socially and economically, activists said, making it easier for companies to attract and retain talented workers and even help attract foreign companies to the world’s third-largest economy.
“If Japan wants to take the lead in Asia again, it has a really good opportunity right now,” said Massa Yanagisawa, head of Prime Services at Goldman Sachs and a board member of the Marriage for All Japan activist group. in Osaka.
“International companies are rethinking their Asian strategy and LGBTQ inclusion is becoming a topic.… International business does not want to invest in a place that is not suitable for LGBTQ.”