A Japanese court ruled Monday that the country’s ban on same-sex marriage does not violate the constitution, and it rejected demands for compensation by three couples who said their rights had been violated. The Osaka District Court ruling is the second decision on the issue, and it disagrees with a ruling last year by a Sapporo court that found the ban on same-sex marriages unconstitutional, per the AP. It underscores how divisive the issue remains in Japan, the only member of the Group of Seven major industrialized nations that does not recognize same-sex unions.
The plaintiffs—two male couples and one female couple—were among 14 same-sex couples who sued the government in 2019, arguing they have been illegally discriminated against by being deprived of the same economic and legal benefits that heterosexual couples enjoy through marriage. Support for sexual diversity has grown slowly in Japan, but legal protections are still lacking for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. LGBTQ people often face discrimination at school, work, and at home, causing many to hide their sexual identities.
The Osaka court on Monday said freedom of marriage in the 1947 constitution refers only to male-female unions and does not include those of the same sex, and therefore banning same-sex marriages is not unconstitutional. Judge Fumi Doi said that marriage for heterosexual couples is a system established by society to protect a relationship between men and women who bear and raise children, and that ways to protect same-sex relationships are still undergoing public debate. The court, however, urged parliament to seek methods to better protect same-sex relationships, including options to legalize same-sex marriage. The couples plan to appeal.
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