In a massive blow to LGBTQ+ rights, a Japanese court has ruled that banning same-sex marriage is constitutional.
In 2019, numerous LGBTQ+ couples filed a lawsuit against the government, claiming the country violated their constitutional right to marry.
The couples also requested that they each be paid 1 million yen (£6058) in damages for being discriminated against, as reported by NPR.
Judge Tomoko Takebe said in the historic ruling that preventing same-sex marriages violates Article 14 of the Japanese constitution, which bans discrimination based on “race, creed, sex, social status or family origin.”
However, a year after the groundbreaking ruling in Sapporo, a district court in Osaka ruled against three LGBTQ+ couples and their call for same-sex marriage.
“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 on 20 June.
“Public debate on what kind of system is appropriate for this has not been thoroughly carried out.”
The court also dismissed the three couples’ – two male and one female – request for one million yen (£6058) in damages.
Currently, Japan’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.
As an alternative to marriage, some municipalities within the country have issued non-legally binding certificates which allow partners to rent apartments together, grant hospital visitations and allow certain employment benefits.
Shortly after the ruling, the plaintiff’s lawyer Akiyoshi Miwa revealed that they would appeal the decision in a statement.
“We emphasised in this case that we wanted same-sex couples to have access to the same things as regular couples,” Miwa told Reuters.
According to the BBC, Japan is the only country in the G7 group of developed nations that restricts same-sex marriage – despite the general public supporting it.
As of 2019, Taiwan is the only Asian country to recognise same-sex marriage.