A Japanese court ruled Tuesday that the government’s anti-same-sex marriage policy is unconstitutional, in a closely watched decision that supporters say is a step toward marriage equality.
However, the Nagoya District Courtin central Japan rejected a male couple’s request that the government pay them 1 million yen ($7,100) each in compensation for the unequal treatment they face because the current system does not recognize them as legally married.
The ruling is the second to find that the government’s denial of same-sex marriage violates the constitution, while two other decisions did not. The sentences can be appealed before the Supreme Court.
In his ruling, Judge Osamu Nishimura said that the current system that excludes same-sex couples without legal protection for their relationship is unconstitutional and there is no room for government discretionreported Kyodo News.
Supporters cheered outside the field, waving rainbow flags and holding signs that read: “Another step toward marriage equality.”
Asato Yamada, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said the court’s ruling made it clear that not allowing same-sex marriage violates the guarantee of equal rights under article 14 of the constitution, and that article 24 establishes the freedom to marry by not specifying a same-sex prohibition. “It’s a big step toward achieving marriage equality,” he said.
“The judiciary, representing minority rights, raised its voice and it will be a strong message for the government,” he said. “The message is that the government must solve the problem immediately”.
Rights activists say Japan’s conservative government has obstructed a push for equal rights that has the support of the general public. Support for LGBTQ+ people in Japan has grown slowly, but recent polls show that a majority of Japanese people support legalizing same-sex marriage. Support among the business community has grown rapidly.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said allowing same-sex marriage would change Japanese society and values and requires careful consideration. He has not clearly expressed his opinion, as conservatives in his party oppose legislation that outlaws discrimination against LGBTQ+ people. Kishida has said he will listen to various points of view and watch court decisions on same-sex marriage.
Five lawsuits have been filed across the country since 2019 over marriage equality. Tuesday’s decision was the fourth.
A March 2021 ruling in Sapporo said the government’s rejection of same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, while the Tokyo District Court ruled in November 2022 that it is not clearly unconstitutional, but the government lacks a justification. to justify the absence of legal protections for people of the same sex. The Osaka District Court said in June 2022 that marriage under the constitution is only for unions of women and men and that the ban on same-sex marriage is valid..
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said in response to Tuesday’s ruling that the cases are still pending and the government will continue to monitor the decisions.
LGBTQ+ activists and their supporters have stepped up their efforts to pass an anti-discrimination law since a former Kishida aide said in February that he would not want to live together with LGBTQ+ people and that citizens would flee Japan if intermarriage were allowed. of the same sex.
Following widespread outrage over the comments, Kishida’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party has introduced legislation to parliament to promote awareness of LGBTQ+ rights. The bill, which has not passed, makes “unfair” discrimination unacceptable but does not provide a clear ban, apparently in response to opposition from some conservative lawmakers to transgender rights.
“I hope the ruling will promote awareness among more people about the situation”said one of the plaintiffs, whose name was withheld for fear of discrimination, told NHK public television. He called on lawmakers to respond to the ruling by taking steps to create a society where people of different backgrounds can respect and help each other.
(with information from AP)
A Japanese court rejected the legality of gay marriage in the country
Japan’s court upheld ban on same-sex marriage
Japan takes a step towards equality: Tokyo made it official that it will begin to recognize same-sex couples