Japanese District Court: Failure to Recognize ‘Same-Sex Marriage’ is Unconstitutional

Current Japanese law does not acknowledge same-sex marriage, but does not expressly prohibit it either

Wedding rings
Wedding rings (photo: Tekke via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0).)

SAPPORO, Japan — A district court in Japan has ruled that the government’s failure to acknowledge same-sex marriage is a violation of the constitution.

A Sapporo district court said the government’s definition of marriage was discriminatory and violated constitutional protections for equal treatment under the law, the New York Times reports.

However, the court ruling does not automatically change the country’s legal definition of marriage, according to NPR. To do so would require legislation by Parliament, which has previously refused to enact such legislation.

Advocates of same-sex marriage say they will now push for Parliament to redefine marriage in the country.

Current Japanese law does not acknowledge same-sex marriage, but does not expressly prohibit it either.

The case against the Japanese government had been filed by three same-sex couples who argued they had been deprived of legal services and benefits, the New York Times reports. Although they sought $9,000 in damages per person, the court denied their request, saying the government is not liable because the idea of same-sex marriage is novel in Japanese culture.

The Senate voted 21-8, with three abstentions, in favor of the report from the joint committee the morning of Dec. 7.

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The bill was “more urgent than pensions, more urgent than violence, more urgent than decent healthcare. There is no other bill, not even healthcare, which is paramount, to be so fast-tracked,” Constantino lamented.

Around 64% of voters backed the measure in a referendum on Sept. 26, making Switzerland the world’s 30th country to approve gay marriage.

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Switzerland’s Catholic bishops said in December that legalizing same-sex marriage was “fraught with numerous administrative, legal and ethical difficulties.”