Japan court rules same-sex marriage ban constitutional, but holds out hope

November 30, 2022 - 4:16 PM
Plaintiffs hold placards outside the court after hearing the ruling on same-sex marriage, in Tokyo, Japan, November 30, 2022. Placards read "A step towards Marriage Equality". (Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon)

 A court said on Wednesday that Japan’s ban on same-sex marriage was constitutional, delivering a blow to LGBTQ rights with the second such ruling in the only G7 nation where same-sex marriage is not permitted.

But in what plaintiffs took as a sign of hope, the Tokyo district court ruling also said the absence of any legal system for same-sex couples to have families was an infringement of their human rights.

Japan’s constitution defines marriage as based on “the mutual consent of both sexes,” and the ruling party of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has disclosed no plans yet to review the matter or propose legislation.

The court ruled that banning same-sex marriage was in line with the constitution, reaching the same conclusion as a court in Osaka in June. A court in Sapporo, northern Japan, last year raised hopes when it ruled the ban was unconstitutional.

Eight people in four couples were involved in the case, saying the same-sex marriage ban contravenes their human rights. They had also demanded 1 million yen each in damages, a demand the court rejected.

The decision came a day after the U.S. Senate passed a same-sex marriage protection bill and Singapore lifted a ban on gay sex but limited the prospects for legalizing same-sex marriage.

—Reporting by Elaine Lies; Editing by Clarence Fernandez & Simon Cameron-Moore