Japanese Politicians Submit Gay Marriage Bill

Hidamari ga kikoeru / Image via Nippon Shuppan Hanbai (Nippan) K.K.

Could marriage equality be the next triumph for LGBTQ people in Japan?

Japan’s major opposition parties have submitted a bill this past Monday that calls for marriage equality. While the bill will probably be stalled and stopped by the ruling conservative party, the Liberal Democratic Party, this bill sparks a coming change in Japan.

Members of the Liberal Democratic Party, who have been in control of Japan’s government for all but four years since 1955, have themselves expressed a desire to create a more LGBTQ-inclusive environment in Japan. Of course, that’s mainly so the country can appeal to more global business and encourage more global talent to work and live there. In addition, there’s a concern of Japan being scrutinized during the 2020 Summer Olympics. That said, we’ll take the initiative all the same.

But again, that support for an LGBTQ-inclusive Japan probably won’t help the bill from the Constitutional Democratic Party. The bill attempts to create gender-neutral wording in the country’s constitution. So instead of using “husband,” “wife,” “father and mother,” the terms “party of marriage” and “parent” would be used.

“What Did You Eat Yesterday?” / Image via TV Tokyo

There is some precedent for marriage equality in Japan. Some districts in Tokyo have legalized civil unions for same-sex couples. That said, only certain areas and districts within the city recognize these laws and unions.

One of the biggest oppositions to these civil union laws and the new same-sex marriage bill are people who wish to keep Article 24 intact. The law states that “Marriage shall be based only on the mutual consent of both sexes and it shall be maintained through mutual cooperation with the equal rights of husband and wife as a basis.”

That said, Japan’s public is becoming more and more accepting of LGBTQ life. Gay-themed programming like My Brother’s Husband and What Did You Eat Yesterday are becoming more mainstream by the year.

The country also started with a healthy gay presence among royalty, samurai soldiers, and even Buddhist monks. It wasn’t until Japan was swept with Christianity and “Western” values that it began to reject homosexuality and gay couples. That said, the country is coming back around on same-sex love, though possibly at a slow pace.

But with Taiwan becoming the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage, it looks like many countries like Thailand, the Philippines, and Japan are now considering same-sex couples in earnest.

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