Good for Japan and GREAT for LGBTQ Japanese citizens!
A court within Japan has ruled that not allowing same-sex couples to marry is an unconstitutional act. While Japan’s constitution currently states that marriage is of “the mutual consent of both sexes,” the Sapporo district court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, according to the Guardian.
The case at the center of the ruling was brought by a group of gay couples seeking damages for mental suffering. They argued that not allowing same-sex couples to “enjoy even a part of the legal effects that arise form marriage,” is in violation of article 14 of the 1947 constitution. Specifically, the constitution demands equality of all people under the law.
The Sapporo court ultimately ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, saying that sexuality is not a matter of individual preference. As such, banning same-sex couples from receiving marriage benefits is unjustified. That said, the court also rejected the plaintiffs’ claim for one million yen (approximately $9,000) per person in damages.
A Japanese court has ruled that the country's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional — saying that because sexual orientation isn't a choice, it is discriminatory not to afford marital benefits to same-sex couples.https://t.co/32sHoRW4dw
— NPR (@NPR) March 17, 2021
Keep in mind, this ruling does not bring same-sex marriage into the entire country, as BBC News reports. Only the Sapporo district will be changed by this ruling. Though, the group of same-sex couples have started similar suits in other districts across the country. Those court rulings will not create gay marriage, however. Instead, support and action from the legislative branch are needed.
Despite that, many LGBTQ rights advocates see this court ruling as a step in the right direction for Japan.
“This is one huge step forward in Japan…” said Ai Nakajima, who was among the group of plaintiffs. “We are moving closer to making our dream come true.”
Then as MP Kanako Otsuji, one of the few openly gay politicians in Japan, said, “With this ruling, I urge the Diet, as the legislative branch of the government, to deliberate a proposed amendment to the civil code to make same-sex marriage possible.”