TOKYO (AP) – A Japanese court ruled Monday that the country’s ban on same-sex marriage does not violate the constitution, and rejected a demand for compensation by three couples who said their right to free union and equality was violated. has been violated.
The Osaka District Court ruling is the second ruling on the issue, and disagrees with a Sapporo court ruling last year that found the ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. This underscores how divisive the issue is in Japan, the only member of the Group of Seven major industrialized countries that does not recognize same-sex unions.
In its ruling, the Osaka court rejected the plaintiffs’ demand for damages of 1 million yen ($7,400) per couple they face.
The plaintiffs – two male couples and one female couple – were among 14 same-sex couples that filed suit in 2019 against the government in five major cities – Sapporo, Tokyo, Nagoya, Fukuoka and Osaka – for free union and equality. to infringe on rights.
They argued that they have been illegally discriminated against because they are deprived of the same economic and legal benefits that heterosexual couples receive through marriage.
Support for sexual diversity has gradually increased in Japan, but there is still a lack of legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. LGBTQ people often face discrimination at school, work, and home, forcing many to hide their sexual identities.
Rights groups had pushed for the passage of an Equality Act ahead of last summer’s Tokyo Olympics, when international attention focused on Japan, but the bill was scrapped by the conservative governing party.
The Osaka Court said on Monday that the 1947 constitution said freedom of marriage meant only male-female union and did not include people of the same sex, and therefore banning same-sex marriage was not unconstitutional.
Judge Fumi Doi said marriage for heterosexual couples is a system established by society to protect the relationship between men and women who give birth to children and ways to protect same-sex relationships are still going through a public debate.
However, the court urged Parliament to look for ways to better protect same-sex relations, including options to legalize same-sex marriage.
Monday’s decision was a blow to activists who were hoping to put further pressure on the government after the Sapporo district court’s ruling in March 2021.
The plaintiffs and their lawyers called Monday’s ruling unacceptable and said they would appeal.
One plaintiff, Akiyoshi Tanaka, told a news conference that he took legal action to get support from the judicial process to get parliament to act, but “stayed away from making a court decision.”
He said that he would keep fighting. “We don’t have time to be disappointed,” he said.
Public opinion in Japan is currently in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage.
Under current rules in Japan, same-sex couples cannot share each other’s property, homes, or other property, and have no parental rights over each other’s children. They are often barred from renting apartments together, and from hospital visits and other services available to married couples.
More than 200 municipalities across Japan, or 12% of the total, have begun issuing illegally binding partnership certificates to same-sex couples as Tokyo’s Shibuya district became the first district to do so in 2015. .
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government recently adopted a plan to accept registration starting in October from sex-minority couples to obtain certificates of their participation.
Nevertheless, it is not the same as a marriage certificate and does not provide the same legal protection.
Taiwan is the only Asian nation or region to have legalized same-sex marriage.