Japan High Court Says Same-Sex Marriage Bar is Unconstitutional

A Japanese high court has said that the country’s lack of legal recognition of same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, upholding a historic verdict by a lower court in 2021.

But in the first decision by a high court among a series of similar lawsuits filed at five district courts, the Sapporo High Court rejected the plaintiffs’ claim for damages over what they called the government’s negligence in not amending the law to allow them to marry.

Japan is the only Group of Seven nation without legal protection for same-sex unions. Although backed by 70% of the public, they are opposed by the conservative Liberal Democratic Party of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

Japanese civil code rules that limit marriage to those of opposite sexes are “unconstitutional” and “discriminatory”, the Sapporo High Court said in its ruling, but dismissed the plaintiffs’ claim for damages from the government.

“Enacting same-sex marriage does not seem to cause disadvantages or harmful effects,” the court said.

“I thought the ruling might be a conservative one, but it ended up exceeding my expectations,” one plaintiff, who did not disclose his name, told reporters after the ruling. “I couldn’t help but cry.”

The plaintiffs are considering appealing to the Supreme Court to clarify the unconstitutionality of existing law, lawyer Tsunamori Fumiyasu told a press conference.

The government will keep its eye on other upcoming court decisions on the matter, its top spokesperson, Yoshimasa Hayashi, told a press conference.

The debate on the same-sex bar has split lower courts, with one district court holding the bar to be constitutional but others saying it is unconstitutional in varying degrees.

Earlier on Thursday, a ruling by the Tokyo district court described the lack of same-sex marriage status in Japan as “a state of unconstitutionality”, employing language less strong than in some past rulings on such lawsuits.

Share this:

Comfort Samuel

I work with TV360 Nigeria, as a broadcast journalist, producer and reporter. I'm so passionate on what I do.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *