• Japan court rules same-sex marriage ban is not unconstitutional

    From Leroy N. Soetoro@21:1/5 to All on Mon Jun 20 18:35:22 2022
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    https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/japan-court-rules-barring-same- sex-marriage-not-unconstitutional-lgbtq-rights-2022-06-20/

    TOKYO, June 20 (Reuters) - A Japanese court ruled on Monday that a ban on same-sex marriage was not unconstitutional, dealing a setback to LGBTQ
    rights activists in the only Group of Seven nation that does not allow
    people of the same gender to marry.

    The ruling dashes activists' hopes of raising pressure on the central government to address the issue after a court in the city of Sapporo in
    March 2021 decided in favour of a claim that not allowing same-sex
    marriage was unconstitutional.

    Three same-sex couples - two male, one female - had filed the case in a district court in Osaka, only the second to be heard on the issue in

    In addition to rejecting their claim that being unable to marry was unconstitutional, the court threw out their demand for 1 million yen
    ($7,400) in damages for each couple.

    "I actually wonder if the legal system in this country is really working,"
    said plaintiff Machi Sakata, who married her U.S.-citizen partner in the
    United States. The two are expecting a baby in August.

    "I think there's the possibility this ruling may really corner us," Sakata said.

    Japan's constitution defines marriage as being based on "the mutual
    consent of both sexes". But the introduction of partnership rights for
    same-sex couples in Tokyo last week, along with rising support in opinion polls, had raised the hopes of activists and lawyers for the Osaka case.

    The Osaka court said that marriage was defined as being only between
    opposite genders and not enough debate on same-sex marriage had taken
    place in Japanese society.

    "We emphasised in this case that we wanted same-sex couples to have access
    to the same things as regular couples," said lawyer Akiyoshi Miwa, adding
    that they would appeal.

    Japanese law is considered relatively liberal in some areas by Asian
    standards, but across the continent only Taiwan has legalised same-sex marriage.

    Under current rules in Japan, members of same-sex couples are not allowed
    to legally marry, cannot inherit each other's assets - such as a house
    they may have shared - and also have no parental rights over each other's children.

    Though partnership certificates issued by some municipalities help same-
    sex couples rent property together and have hospital visitation rights,
    they do not give them the full legal rights enjoyed by heterosexual

    Last week, the Tokyo prefectural government passed a bill to recognise
    same-sex partnership agreements, meaning local governments covering more
    than half of Japan's population now offer such recognition.

    While Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said the issue needs to be
    carefully considered, his ruling Liberal Democratic Party has disclosed no plans to review the matter or propose legislation, though some senior
    party members favour reform.

    An upcoming case in Tokyo will keep alive public debate on the issue, particularly in the capital, where an opinion poll by the local government
    late last year found some 70% of people were in favour of same-sex

    Legalising same-sex marriage would have far-reaching implications both
    socially and economically, activists say, and would help attract foreign
    firms to the world's third-biggest economy.

    "International firms are reviewing their Asian strategy and LGBTQ
    inclusivity is becoming a topic," said Masa Yanagisawa, head of prime
    services at Goldman Sachs and a board member of the activist group
    Marriage for all Japan, speaking before the verdict.

    "International businesses don't want to invest in a location that isn't LGBTQ-friendly."

    ($1 = 134.8800 yen)

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