Japanese court upholds ban on equal marriage

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A Japanese court on Wednesday declared a ban on same-sex marriage constitutional, dealing a blow to the LGTBIQ community in what is already the second ruling against equal marriage in the Asian country.

Thus, the Tokyo District Court has denied the plaintiffs the compensation of one million yen (about 7,000 euros) they were seeking on the grounds that the rejection of their marriage applications is unconstitutional.

However, the court has pointed out that the absence of a legal system that makes it easier for same-sex couples to form a family is an infringement of their rights and freedoms, according to information from the Kiodo news agency.

The Japanese Constitution defines marriage as a «union of mutual consent between the two sexes», while the government has no intention of submitting a bill to amend the text and introduce equal marriage.

Although the Sapporo District Court said in March 2021 that the government’s failure to recognize such civil unions was unconstitutional, a higher court ruled in June 2021 that the ban does not violate the Constitution.

The eight plaintiffs, who range in age from 30 to 60, were also among those who filed similar appeals in 2019 in other cities across the country.

Japan’s civil registration regulations are based on marriage between men and women, which includes issues such as inheritance, tax benefits and child custody, something that is not guaranteed for same-sex couples. Therefore, the plaintiffs insist that the current legislation violates the Constitution, which guarantees equality and the freedom to marry.

Local authorities in some areas of the country, such as Tokyo, have begun issuing certificates recognizing same-sex marriage in an attempt to make it easier for same-sex couples to qualify for municipal benefits, but these documents are not legally binding, making Japan the only G7 country that still does not recognize same-sex marriage.

More than thirty countries and regions around the world have recognized such marriages. Taiwan was the first in Asia to do so after legalizing it in 2019.