Japan court finds same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional

Japan court finds same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional
Supporters in Sapporo holding a banner that reads "unconstitutional decision". Source: Reuters
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Daily US Times: A district court in Japan has ruled that the country’s failure to recognise same-sex marriage is “unconstitutional”.

The constitution of Japan defines marriage as one between “both sexes”.

But a Sapporo court ruled that this denied the couples constitutionally-guaranteed equality, in what is seen as a symbolic victory for LGBTQ activists.

Japan is the only country in the G7 group that does not allow same-sex marriage.

The case was one of several brought to district courts in various parts of the country by a group of same-sex couples who are seeking damages for mental suffering.

The Sapporo court rejected the compensation claim of one million yen per person for being denied the same rights as heterosexual couples.

But the court found that not allowing them to marry was unconstitutional.

Ai Nakajima, who is among the group of plaintiffs, said: “This is one huge step forward in Japan… We are moving closer to making our dream come true.”

But there is still some way to go for Japan.

Even if all district courts declare same-sex unions constitutional, according to The Japan Times, the legalisation of same-sex marriages is not guaranteed, as current political momentum to change the law is “lukewarm at best”.

Japan’s constitution, put in place after the end of the second world war, defines marriage as one of “mutual consent between both sexes”.

The government of Japan has said this means same-sex marriage was not “foreseen” at the time.

But lawyers for the plaintiffs said the phrasing if the constitution was actually meant to prevent forced marriages, and that there is nothing in the constitution that explicitly prohibits gay marriage.

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