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Mixed Ruling on Marriage Equality by Court in Japan

Mixed Ruling on Marriage Equality by Court in Japan

The court ruled the ban on marriage equality was legal, but also found the lack of protections for same-sex LGBTQ+ couples violated their human rights.

A recent court ruling in Japan has delivered mixed results on the issue of marriage equality.

A Tokyo District Court on Wednesday upheld the country’s ban on marriage equality, but also ruled the lack of legal protections for same-sex partners and their families infringed on their human rights. Japan is currently the only state among the G7 nations that does not recognize marriage equality.

“This is actually a fairly positive ruling,” Nobuhito Sawasaki, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, told Reuters. “While marriage remains between a man and a woman, and the ruling supported that, it also said that the current situation with no legal protections for same-sex families is not good, and suggested something must be done about it.”

“I was glad that the ruling acknowledged we have a right to be families,” one of the plaintiffs, Chizuka Oe, said at a news conference following the decision according to VOA. “This is just the beginning.”

The Japanese constitution defines marriage as between a man and a woman and does not recognize marriage equality. Same-sex couples also face difficulties with inheritance, child custody, and hospital visitation rights as well. Currently, municipalities representing 60 percent of the country provide partnership certificates for same-sex couples, but these do not provide the same rights and protections as married opposite-sex couples.

The Tokyo plaintiffs had argued that the marriage ban was unconstitutional and demanded 1 million yen ($7,175) in damages. The court threw out their claims and damage demands but did note that the country’s lack of legal protections for same-sex couples violated their human rights.

The mixed ruling resulted in mixed feelings for one of the plaintiffs.

“There were parts of this that were disappointing,” one plaintiff identified as only Katsu told Reuters. “But parts of it gave me hope.”

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