Health and Lifestyle

Japanese court rules ban on same-sex marriages constitutional – Health and Lifestyle News – Report by AFR

A Japanese court ruled Monday that the country’s failure to recognize same-sex marriages was constitutional, a setback for activists after a landmark ruling last year found the opposite.

The district court in western Japan’s Osaka dismissed the arguments of three same-sex couples in a series of lawsuits filed by activists seeking marriage equality.

“From the point of view of individual dignity, it can be said that there is a need to realize the benefits of public recognition of same-sex couples through official recognition,” the court ruling said.

But the current failure to recognize such unions “is not considered a violation of… the Constitution,” the ruling added, saying “the public debate on what kind of system is appropriate for this has not been thoroughly conducted”.

Akiyoshi Miwa, the attorney representing the plaintiffs in the case, said he was “shocked” by the court’s unwillingness to intervene in the debate.

“It means that the judge is saying that the court does not have to actively interfere in human rights issues,” Miwa said.

Plaintiff Machi Sakata, who married her American partner in Oregon State, said she “couldn’t believe the verdict.”

The court also ruled that same-sex partners could receive legal benefits if a marriage-like framework were created.

“Nothing can replace (marriage). I feel nothing but resentment. It’s like they’re saying, ‘We don’t treat you equally, but that’s okay, isn’t it?'” Sakata said.

Monday’s ruling comes after a district court in northern Sapporo found the opposite last year, ruling that the government’s failure to allow same-sex marriage violated the constitution’s provision that guarantees equality before the law.

This ruling was hailed by activists as a major victory that would pressure lawmakers to accept same-sex partnerships.

The Japanese constitution stipulates that “marriage may be entered into only by mutual consent of both sexes”.

But in recent years, local authorities across the country have taken steps to recognize same-sex partnerships, although such recognition does not carry the same rights as marriage under the law.

Tokyo Prefecture said last month it would recognize same-sex partnerships from November and revise current rules.

More than a dozen couples filed lawsuits in district courts across Japan in 2020 to seek marriage equality. They said the coordinated action was to put pressure on the only G7 government that doesn’t recognize gay unions.

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