Is gay marriage legal in Japan?

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In this brief guide we are going to answer the question ‘’Is gay marriage legal in Japan?’’ we’ll take a look at the legal status of gay marriage in japan, as well as the country’s LGBT+ movements.

Is gay marriage legal in Japan?

No, gay marriage is not legal in Japan. A court in the Osaka district of western Japan has ruled that so-called gay “marriage” is unconstitutional, as the Japanese Constitution establishes that marriage is composed of persons of opposite sexes, i.e. man and woman.

As reported by Reuters, the case was brought by three same-sex couples, who argued that the bar on marriage was unconstitutional.

The argument for this, reports DW, was Article 14 of the Constitution, which refers to the equality of persons and the right to non-discrimination in political relations. The three same-sex couples are part of a series of lawsuits filed by equality activists.

“From the perspective of individual dignity, it can be said that it is necessary to make it a reality for the benefits of same-sex couples to be publicly recognized through official recognition,” the court said.

But the court noted it “does not consider” the current lack of recognition to be a violation of the constitution and said, “no public debate has taken place as to what system would be appropriate.”

The court also based its ruling on the Japanese Constitution, specifically Article 24, which refers directly to marriage.

According to this article on Japan’s Magna Carta, marriage is “based solely on the mutual consent of both sexes”, i.e. man and woman.

Therefore, according to the Asian country’s Constitution, a union between two people of the same sex cannot be recognized as a marriage.

The Osaka district court also dismissed the couples’ demand for 1 million yen (about $7500) in “damages” for each of them.

The lawyer for the three gay couples, Akiyoshi Miwa, told Reuters that they will appeal the ruling.

According to DW, three other similar cases are currently pending in Tokyo, Nagoya and Fukuoka.

According to AP, Judge Fumi Doi said that the marriage of heterosexual couples is a system established by society to protect relationships between men and women raising children; and that the debate for the protection of homosexual unions is still ongoing.

Conclusion

Despite being one of the richest and most technologically advanced countries in the world, Japan is still a very conservative place where traditional values are deeply rooted in society. It is the only country in the G7 (the group of the seven most powerful countries in the world) where same-sex marriage is still illegal.

According to the NGO Nijiiro Diversity, which works for the rights of the LGTBI community in Japan, this group suffers discrimination in different areas such as the family, at work or in public spaces, and is more likely to suffer from depression.

In recent years, local authorities in the country have moved to recognize same-sex unions, but without giving them the same guarantees as marriage.

References

Japanese court upholds ban on same-sex marriage. Retrieved from https://edition.cnn.com/2022/06/21/asia/japan-same-sex-marriage-ban-gay-rights-court-intl-hnk/index.html

Tokyo moves to allow same-sex partnerships, but not as legal marriage. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/06/15/tokyo-same-sex-japan-lgbtq/

Unpacking Japan’s latest ruling on same-sex marriage. Retrieved from https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2022/06/29/national/social-issues/explainer-ruling-same-sex-marriage/

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