Ban on Same-Sex Marriage ‘Constitutional’ in Japan, Court Rules

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A Japanese court on Monday dismissed a lawsuit filed by three same-sex couples who argued that Japan’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

Three same-sex couples in their 30s and 50s contended in Osaka District Court that the law prohibiting them from marrying was “unjust discrimination” and sought 1 million yen ($7,400) in damages for each person.

The court rejected their claims and ruled the ban was constitutional, given Japan’s legislation that states that “marriage shall be based only on the mutual consent of both sexes,” which excludes same-sex marriage.

The court said that there had not been enough discussions over the legalization of same-sex marriage in Japan, but that a new system could be formed in the future to accommodate the interests of same-sex couples.

The three couples, two of them male and one female, plan to appeal the court’s decision, Kyodo News reported.

“It is such a disappointment. I’m not convinced [by the court’s verdict]at all,” said Machi Sakata, one of the plaintiffs.

Their lawyers claimed that the Osaka court provided no solid grounds to overturn the Sapporo court’s verdict from last year, which ruled that the ban on same-sex marriage violated the Japanese Constitution’s guarantee of equality.

In March 2021, the three same-sex couples filed a lawsuit in the Sapporo District Court and demanded 1 million yen in damages per person. The court ruled in favor of their claims but said they were not entitled to damages.

Amnesty International’s East Asia researcher, Boram Jang, said that Japan’s ban on same-sex marriage was a “damaging setback” to equal rights in the country and was “discriminatory” to same-sex couples.

“Last year’s ruling by the Sapporo District Court, which held that Japan’s marriage ban was unconstitutional, offered hope of progress on this issue, but today’s verdict is a crushing blow to same-sex couples who will feel they are back to square one,” Jang stated.

In a statement, the human rights group called on Japan’s government “to undertake a thorough review of all laws, policies, and practices that discriminate against same-sex couples in all walks of life.”

However, a Justice Ministry official told Kyodo News, “The court recognized our claims that provisions in the civil law regarding marriage are not against the Constitution.”

The Netherlands was the first country to legalize same-sex marriage in 2001. According to the Human Rights Campaign, a total of 31 countries have legalized same-sex marriage, including Taiwan, the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand.

Source: The Epochtimes

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