Japan Court Says Same-Sex Marriage Ban is Constitutional

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by Benson Kua via Flickr Creative Commons

A Japanese district court in Osaka ruled that a ban on same-sex marriage does not violate the constitution.

According to BBC, the country defines marriage as one between “both sexes.”

Three same-sex couples in Osaka filed a suit claiming that being unable to marry was unconstitutional, CBS News reports. They asked for $1 million yen ($7,406) in damages for each couple.

The court, however, ruled that the ban was constitutional as because of the definition of marriage in the Japanese constitution. The ruling is a blow for LGTBQ activists, who were hopeful after a court in Sapporo in March 2021 said that not allowing same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

“I actually wonder if the legal system in this country is really working,” Machi Sakata, one of the plaintiffs said in an interview with Reuters.

Sakata married her partner, who is a U.S. citizen, in the United States. They are expecting a baby in August.

The court’s ruling seems to largely oppose the will of the Japanese people. According to the BBC, opinion polls show that the general public is in favor of allowing same-sex marriage in Japan. Several areas in Japan have already begun issuing partnership certificates to same-sex couples so they can rent properties together and gain hospital visitation rights.

The court appeared to be in favor of eventually creating a system that would recognize same-sex marriages.

“From the perspective of individual dignity, it can be said that it is necessary to realize the benefits of same-sex couples being publicly recognized through official recognition,” the court said in its ruling, according to the BBC.

“Public debate on what kind of system is appropriate for this has not been thoroughly carried out,” the court added.

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