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HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 March 17 - 23  > Sapporo district court recognizes ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional
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2021 March 17 - 23 TOP3 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Sapporo district court recognizes ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional

March 18, 2021

The Sapporo District Court on March 17 ruled that not allowing same-sex couples to get married violates Article 14 of the Japanese Constitution which stipulates "equality under the law". The court, however, dismissed the claim by plaintiffs for damages.

The lawsuit was filed against the central government by three same-sex couples in Hokkaido, seeking "marital freedom" guaranteed by the Constitution.

The legal team of the plaintiffs issued a statement welcoming the ruling that the rejection of same-sex marriage is discrimination which lacks reasonable grounds. The lawyers said that the government should take this judgement seriously and begin working to amend the current Civil Code as well as the Family Register Act. They added that the unconstitutional situation should be promptly corrected.

Japanese Communist Party Gender Equality Commission Chair Kurabayashi Akiko (House of Councilors member) issued a statement saying, "The government's failure to recognize same-sex marriage creates a serious disadvantage to same-sex couples. For example, they may not have visiting rights with a hospitalized partner and cannot give surgical consent as a family member." She continued to say, "It is discriminatory and a clear infringement of basic human rights for the government to keep imposing such disadvantages based on sexual orientation. The Diet as the supreme legislative organ of the country must resolve the issue without delay," promising that the JCP will be committed to working hard to amend the relevant laws in order to legalize same-sex marriage.

Seventy-nine municipalities in which one third of the population in Japan reside, as of March 16, have a program which officially certifies same-sex partnerships. In addition, the number of companies having a policy of respecting human rights of and prohibiting discrimination against sexual minorities has doubled in the past three years. At present, 30 countries and regions legally allow same-sex marriage.

The Sapporo court judgement will give momentum to Diet discussions to legalize same-sex marriage.

Past related articles:
> Rally held to call for legislation allowing same-sex marriage [November 20, 2019]
> Japan’s first same-sex marriage lawsuit is not only for couples’ rights but also for inclusive society [February 17, 2019]
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