Japan’s government is facing renewed pressure to legalise same-sex marriage after a court ruled its ban is unconstitutional.
Nagoya District Court’s decision marks the second time that a Japanese court has ruled against the country’s stance on same-sex marriage in the last two years.
Two others declared that the ban is in line with the post-war constitution, which defines marriage as based on “the mutual consent of both sexes”.
Japan is currently the only G7 nation with no legal protection for same-sex unions and the ruling is likely to add pressure to change this.
The ruling was met with cheers from supporters waving rainbow flags outside the court.
“It’s a major step toward achieving marriage equality,” said Asato Yamada, a lawyer for the plaintiffs.
Despite the momentous ruling, which was the result of a lawsuit filed by two men who are in a relationship, the court denied the couple’s demand that the state pay them one million yen (£5,715) each as compensation for them being denied the right to get married.
Yoko Mixushima, the couple’s lawyer, told journalists that the “ruling has rescued us from the hurt of last year’s ruling that said there was nothing wrong with the ban, and the hurt of what the government keeps saying”.
This comment was in reference to a 2022 ruling in Osaka that the ban was not unconstitutional, something that was later echoed in a Tokyo court which also stated that the lack of legal protection for same-sex families was a violation of their human rights.
Same-sex marriage is supported by the majority of people in Japan
The legalisation of same-sex marriage in Japan is supported by the majority of people living there, a public opinion poll showed on 13 February.
Nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of respondents to a poll conducted by the Kyodo News agency were in favour of marriage equality.
Roughly the same number (64.3 per cent) said new laws were needed to promote a better understanding of sexual diversity in Japan.
Just one quarter (24.9 per cent) were opposed to same-sex marriage.
The survey was conducted just one week after Prime Minister Fumio Kishida fired an aide who made homophobic comments about not wanting to live next to LGBTQ+ couples and expressed a desire to leave Japan if same-sex marriage was introduced.
Almost six in 10 (57.7 per cent) of respondents believed the comments were inappropriate, according to the poll.
The overall approval rating for Kishida’s government stood at 33.6 per cent, a number roughly the same as in January.
A total of 424 households and 636 mobile phone users took part in the survey.