big win for lgbt rights in japan as court rules ‘not allowing same sex marriage is unconstitutional’
Last updated on May 31st, 2023 at 06:38 am
In a significant step towards marriage equality in the only G7 nation with no legal protection for same-sex unions, the Nagoya District Court in central Japan ruled on Tuesday that not allowing same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.
The ruling is the second out of four cases over the last two years to find a ban against same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. It is expected to offer additional momentum for efforts toward marriage equality.
Although a number of opinion polls in Japan show around 70% of the public is in favour of same-sex marriage, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) opposes it.
Covering roughly 65% of the population, same-sex couples are now allowed to enter partnership agreements in over 300 Japanese municipalities.
But the rights are limited in scope: partners can’t have parental rights to each other’s children and aren’t allowed to inherit each other’s assets as well. Hospital visits aren’t guaranteed.
Kishida in February dismissed an aide who triggered major outrage by saying people would start fleeing Japan if same-sex marriages were made legal. But the prime minister still maintains caution around it and has called for careful discussions.
Japan – the world’s third-largest economy – is considered relatively liberal in general. But conservative attitudes have made the LGBT community there largely invisible. Taiwan made headlines in 2019 by legalising same-sex marriages – becoming the first place in Asia to do so.
Japan would need to pass a new law before same-sex marriages could actually become a reality. The country has been under increasing pressure lately to change, both from other G7 members but also from economic lobbies – with businesses stressing greater diversity is the key to international competitiveness.