Japan Same-Sex Marriage Ban Ruled Unconstitutional by Courts

The Sapporo High Court in Japan has made a decision declaring the nation’s ban on same-sex marriage as “unconstitutional.” This ruling follows a similar decision by the Sapporo District Court in 2021.

Japan Same-Sex Marriage Ban Ruled Unconstitutional by Courts

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The current marriage law in Japan restricts marriage to heterosexual couples, with same-sex unions not recognized.

Despite previous rulings in various district courts, which either deemed the ban unconstitutional or near to it, the high court’s decision carries weight. Japan remains the only G7 nation without legal recognition or protection for same-sex couples.

The Sapporo High Court addressed that denying same-sex couples the right to marry and enjoy spousal benefits violates their fundamental rights.

Judge Kiyofumi Saito stated that marriage is a fundamental human right, and excluding same-sex couples constitutes unjust discrimination lacking rationality.

Support for marriage equality has surged among the Japanese public with approximately 68% favoring legalization, according to a 2023 Pew Research Center survey.

The governing Liberal Democratic Party known for its conservative stance on family values has been hesitant to embrace this societal change.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida‘s government faces pressure to enact reforms, but internal opposition within the party has hindered progress.

While the court rulings carry symbolic importance, they do not automatically change the existing law. Government offices can continue denying marriage status to same-sex couples until legislative changes are made.

Advocacy groups urge the Japanese Parliament to heed the judiciary’s criticisms and enact concrete legislative measures to recognize same-sex marriages.

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Japan’s stance on same-sex marriage contrasts with global trends where numerous countries, including some Asian nations like Taiwan and Nepal, have legalized such unions.

The lack of legal recognition for same-sex couples in Japan has drawn criticism internationally and within the country’s corporate and business communities.

LGBTQ+ activists continue to push for equal rights and inclusion. Public demonstrations such as Tokyo’s Pride parade, serve both as celebrations of identity and calls for legislative reform.

High-profile individuals, including U.S. Ambassador Rahm Emanuel, have voiced support for marriage equality in Japan.

The Sapporo High Court situated in Hokkaido voiced the sentiments of the Sapporo District Court’s 2021 ruling, addressing that denying same-sex couples the right to marry violates their fundamental human rights.

The Tokyo District Court said similar sentiments deeming Japan’s lack of legal recognition for same-sex marriages as a “state of unconstitutionality.”

Over the past few years legal battles have intensified with various district courts delivering differing rulings.

While the Osaka district court dismissed a similar lawsuit in 2022, the Nagoya District Court ruled the ban unconstitutional in the same year.

Public support for marriage equality has surged in Japan with polls indicating up to 72% backing for same-sex unions. This growing support shows a societal change towards inclusivity and equality.

Japan’s conservative government led by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, has been reticent about altering existing laws. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party known for its conservative stance on family values.

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