On Monday a Japanese court ruled that the country’s ban on same-sex marriage does not violate the constitution. The Osaka district court also dismissed a lawsuit by three same-sex couples, who were seeking 1 million yen ($7,400) per person in compensation from the government.
The couples were arguing that their constitutional right to equality had been violated by the ban on same-sex marriages. The plaintiffs in this case were among 14 same-sex couples, who filed lawsuits in 2019. The lawsuits were filed in five major cities in Japan.
The Osaka court said of the ruling that the freedom of marriage in the 1947 constitution only means male and female unions. And that it does not include those of the same sex, therefore banning same-sex marriages is not unconstitutional.
The court went on to urge parliament to seek methods to better protect same-sex relationships
The court went on to urge parliament to seek methods to better protect same-sex relationships. That includes the option to legalize same-sex marriage.
The latest court ruling is the second decision handed down by a Japanese court. It disagrees with the previous ruling last year by a Sapporo court. The court in that case found that the ban on same-sex marriages was unconstitutional.
The reason given by the Sapporo court was that the ban violates the constitution’s guarantee of equality. Although they too dismissed similar claims for damages.
The opposing rulings show just how split Japan is on the topic of same-sex marriages. Japan is the only country in the Group of Seven that currently does not recognize same-sex marriages.
The plaintiffs in the case plan to appeal the ruling
The plaintiffs in the case plan to appeal the ruling. The court may have ruled against them, but the public opinion is on their side. A poll last year found that 65 percent of voters in the country supported same-sex marriage.
In Japan there are no legal protections for same-sex couples. For example, same-sex couples can’t inherit their partner’s property and do not have any parental rights over their partner’s children. Same-sex couples, in many cases, are unable to rent apartments together or visit each other in the hospital the same way other married couples can.
Unlike other countries in Asia, homosexuality has been legal in Japan since 1880. There are still some countries where homosexuality remains illegal. The only country or territory in Asia to recognize same-sex marriages is Taiwan.