A district court in Osaka has ruled that the ban on same-sex marriage is constitutional, dealing a blow to gay couples and LGBTQ rights activists in the country.
The ruling on Monday conflicted with that of a district court in Sapporo which ruled in 2021 that the failure to recognise same-sex marriage was “unconstitutional”.
The Osaka District Court rejected claims brought before it that the national ban on gay marriage violated Japan’s constitution and dismissed claims by three same-sex couples as part of a series of suits filed by activists seeking marriage equality.
The couple—two male and one female—had filed the case in court, arguing that they had suffered “unjust discrimination” by not being allowed to marry.
The case is the second to be heard on the issue in Japan, where conservative attitudes towards homosexuality remain.
The court, however, rejected their claim that being unable to marry was unconstitutional, and dismissed their demands for 1 million yen ($7,414) in damages for each couple.
The Osaka court held that marriage was defined as being only between opposite genders. It also noted that there had not been enough public debate on same-sex marriage in the country.
“From the perspective of individual dignity, it can be said that it is necessary to realise the benefits of same-sex couples being publicly recognised through official recognition,” the court said in its ruling.
“Public debate on what kind of system is appropriate for this has not been thoroughly carried out.”
Japan is the only country in the G7 group of developed nations that criminalized same-sex marriage.
Though LGBTQ couples can rent property together and have hospital visitation rights due to partnership certificates issued by some municipalities, however, they are not afforded full legal rights enjoyed by heterosexual couples.
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