A Japanese court has upheld its ruling banning same-sex marriage while calling for more LGBTQ+ protections.

Over the last few years, local activists have called on Japan’s government to legalise same-sex marriage country-wide. 

Out of the G7 countries, Japan is the only one that doesn’t have that protection. 

While a landmark ruling from 2021 declared that queer citizens should have the right to get married in the country, a Japanese court recently ruled that banning same-sex marriage is constitutional.

Currently, the country’s constitution defines marriage as “mutual consent between both sexes” and bans same-sex marriage.

The document also states that gay couples are unable to inherit each other’s assets or share parental rights over each other’s kids.

On 30 November, LGBTQ+ activists were left disappointed when a Tokyo court upheld the aforementioned ruling. 

However despite the court doubling down on its stance, the presiding judge also stated that the lack of a legal system and protections for same-sex couples infringes on their human rights (per CNN). 

Following the hearing, lawyer Nohbuito Sawaski opened up about the court’s decision – which he described as “fairly positive.” 

“While marriage remains between a man and a woman, and the ruling supported that, it also said that the current situation, with no legal protections for same-sex families, is not good, and suggested something must be done about it,” he explained (per The Guardian). 

Amnesty International’s East Asia researcher Borwam Jang echoed similar sentiments in a lengthy statement. 

“While the court today endorsed the government’s discriminatory ban on same-sex marriage, it also acknowledged that the absence of any legal system for same-sex couples to have families was an infringement of their human rights. This, at least, is cause for hope,” Jang explained.

“This is not the ruling the LGBTI community wanted, but it is still an important step forward for same-sex couples and LGBTI rights in Japan. Nevertheless, much more needs to be done to combat the discrimination faced by LGBTI people in Japanese society. It is time for the government to change course on LGBTI rights.”

Even though gay marriage is still not legally recognised, some municipalities have issued non-legally binding certificates – which allow same-sex partners to rent apartments together, grant hospital visitations and allow certain employment benefits.

As of 2019, Taiwan is the only Asian country to recognise same-sex marriage.