Japan Court on Same Sex Marriage: In a landmark ruling, a Japanese district court ruled that the country’s refusal to accept same-sex marriage is “unconstitutional.”
Marriage is described in Japan’s constitution as a union of “both sexes.” In what is seen as a symbolic win for LGBTQIA+ advocates, a Sapporo Court ruled that this refused the couple constitutionally-guaranteed equality.
Time To Celebrate The Victory
According to a report, Japan is the only developing country in the G7 community that does not sanction same-sex marriage. In 2019, more than a dozen same-sex couples filed lawsuits in district courts throughout Japan, requesting that gay marriage be recognised.
Ai Nakajima, a member of the plaintiffs’ party, told the BBC, “In Japan, this is a big move forward…We’re getting closer to achieving our dream.”
Japan is the only member of the Group of Seven that does not recognise the unions. Marriage is described in Japan’s constitution, which was enacted after World War II, as “mutual consent between both sexes.”
The government suggests that same-sex marriage was not “foreseen” at the time. The plaintiffs’ lawyers, however, claim that the phrasing was intended to discourage forced marriages, and that there is no provision in the constitution prohibiting gay marriage.
Japan has a long tradition of tolerance for homosexuality, with recorded cases of samurai warriors having male lovers during feudal times. However, as Japan became more industrialised and modernised in the late nineteenth century, biases against homosexuality became more prevalent.
In 2015, Tokyo’s bustling Shibuya district made history by starting to grant symbolic “partnership” certificates to same-sex couples.
According to activists, conservative views against homosexuality still exist in Japan, and many LGBTQIA+ Japanese are reluctant to come out to their friends and families.
Ray of Hope
Some cities have been issuing licenses to same-sex couples since 2015. However, they are not legally binding and do not give married couples equal rights; instead, they simply ask companies to treat them equally.
However, recent surveys show that the majority of younger Japanese people support same-gender marriage.