Japan High Court Rules Same-Sex Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

Japan High Court Rules Same-Sex Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

A high court in Japan has ruled that the country’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, and called for the government to amend current marriage laws.

For years, Japan has been the only G7 state to not allow same-sex unions. Over the past year, however, small victories have been paving the way to marriage equality. In the summer of 2023, the Nagoya District Court first ruled that bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional. Though this was a relatively low court, the acknowledgement was considered a big win for Japan’s LGBTQ+ community. Also in 2023, Japan ruled mandatory sterilization of transgender people unconstitutional. 

The plaintiffs who won the case were three same-sex couples who appealed to the Sapporo High Court after a lower court dismissed compensation claims for the couples. Following the Sapporo Court decision a lower court in Tokyo followed suit with the same ruling later that day.

In its ruling the Sapporo High Court declared that denying same-sex couples the right to marry and enjoy marital benefits that straight couples have “violates their fundamental right to equality and freedom of marriage,” according to AP News. Despite this ruling, the court does not have the power to overturn the law. The justices did however, recommend that the existing marriage laws be rewritten to include same-sex marriage.

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