Japan’s leading opposition party has submitted a bill to legally recognise same-sex marriage in a bid to ignite debate on the issue in parliament.
The Constitutional Democratic Party (CDP) is proposing that the country’s Civil Code be amended as its current wording is based on the notion that marriage is a union between partners of different sexes.
The bill, which was submitted on 6 March, comes just two months ahead of Japan hosting the next G7 summit meeting in May.
It is currently the only member of the intergovernmental political forum to not legally recognise same-sex marriage as the current government refuses to change its position on the matter.
Same-sex couples can currently engage in civil unions, though this is only possible in certain regions.
Furthermore, they are unable to inherit assets or adopt as married heterosexual couples can.
In a parliamentary session on 1 March, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called for further debate and said he is cautious about legalising same-sex unions as it “could change society as it concerns the lives of the people extensively”.
Last month, Kishida fired one of his aides who allegedly made anti-LGBTQ+ comments, including that he “doesn’t even want to look at” married gay couples.
He stated that these “outrageous” remarks” are “completely incompatible with the administration’s policies”.
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.