Court ruling: Marriage remains forbidden for everyone in Japan

gay rights
Still no marriage for everyone in Japan: Plaintiffs fail again in court

People take part in the Tokyo Rainbow Pride Parade in 2017. On Wednesday, a Tokyo district court ruled that the state’s refusal to legally recognize same-sex marriages was not unconstitutional.

© Kota Kawasaki / Picture Alliance

Japan is the only G7 country that does not recognize same-sex marriage. It should stay that way: Eight homosexuals went to court in Tokyo – unsuccessfully, as it now turns out.

Homosexuals in Japan have suffered a setback in their struggle to have same-sex marriage recognized. The Tokyo District Court ruled on Wednesday that the state’s refusal to legally recognize same-sex marriages was not unconstitutional. The court rejected the claim of the eight plaintiffs for one million yen (around 6,900 euros) per person in compensation for the emotional pain caused by the government’s refusal. Japan is the only country in the G7 group of economically strong democracies that has not yet recognized same-sex marriage.

Despite the failed lawsuit: Observers see progress in Japan

A district court in the northern city of Sapporo was the first to rule in 2021 that the state’s refusal violated the constitutional right to equal treatment. Lawyers spoke of a big step towards equality in marriage. But in June 2022, another court in Osaka came to the opposite conclusion. The court in Tokyo now followed this verdict.

The legislature sees this as confirmed. According to observers, however, the fact that the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTQ) people are now being brought before the courts in Japan at all indicates slow progress on the question of marriage law. In 2019, Taiwan became the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage. In Germany, the law on marriage for everyone came into force on October 1, 2017.

In Japan, the issue of the LGBTQ community is slowly gaining public awareness, although many are hiding their sexual orientation or gender identity for fear of discrimination. However, some communities now recognize registered partnerships. They are not legally binding. However, they should help to avoid discrimination, for example when visiting a partner in hospital or when looking for an apartment.


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