Society: marriage for everyone? – Plaintiffs fail again in court in Japan

Marriage for everyone? – Plaintiffs fail again in court in Japan

Lawyers for plaintiffs and supporters hold up rainbow flags and a banner that reads, “Unconstitutional Verdict” in front of the Sapporo District Court in 2021. photo

© Yohei Fukai/Kyodo News/AP/dpa

Japan has not yet recognized same-sex marriage. The district court in Tokyo has made a decision on this.

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. At the same time, however, it pointed out in its judgment that the lack of a legal system that enables homosexuals to start a family represents a “state of unconstitutionality”. It is “a serious threat and an obstacle” to humanity, as reported by the Kyodo news agency.

Japan is the only country in the G7 group of economically strong democracies that has not yet recognized same-sex marriage.

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.

This confirms the legislature. 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. Taiwan became the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage in 2019. 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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