A court in Japan ruled on Monday that the country’s non-recognition of gay marriage was not unconstitutional, a disappointment to its supporters who won a separate court ruling in their favor last year.
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The Osaka (West) Magistrate’s Court dismissed three same-sex couples who filed a lawsuit against the state.
From the point of view of “individual dignity”, official recognition of same-sex unions is “necessary”, the Court ruled, while nevertheless finding that it was not a violation of equality rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
The public debate on the question of gay marriage “has not yet been sufficiently conducted”, she preferred to underline.
In March 2021, the first instance court in Sapporo (North) had nevertheless ruled the non-recognition of gay marriage unconstitutional, a first in the country which was immediately hailed by its supporters as a great victory.
On the subject of marriage, the Japanese Constitution (never revised since its entry into force in 1947) is content to mention the need for “mutual consent of both sexes”, which leaves room for a lot of interpretation.
But since 2015, more than 200 municipalities or local authorities in Japan have offered certificates to homosexual couples to facilitate certain procedures, in particular administrative procedures, according to the NGO Marriage for all Japan.
However, the scope of these documents is often more symbolic than anything else, for lack of a legal basis.
The city of Tokyo announced last month that it would recognize same-sex unions from November.
A dozen same-sex couples in the archipelago have filed lawsuits against the state since 2019 to push for the legalization of marriage for all. Japan is the last G7 country to not recognize same-sex unions.