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Japanese court rules same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional

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Couples in Sapporo's High Court argued the same-sex marriage ban breached Japanese laws on equality, and is unconstitutional.
Japanese same-sex marriage unconstitutional

A Japanese court has found the country’s ban on same-sex marriage is “unconstitutional”.

The Sapporo High Court ruling – which said disallowing same-sex marriage was “a discrimination that lacks rationality” – follows a similar decision in a lower court in Tokyo this week.

The rulings don’t have the power to change Japan’s ban on same-sex marriage, but are considered a landmark step towards marriage equality in Japan.

Background

The Japanese constitution says that marriage “shall be maintained through mutual cooperation with the equal rights of husband and wife as a basis.”

However, marriage equality advocacy groups argue the Constitution does not include an explicit ban on same-sex marriage.

Japan is the only country in the G7 – a group of some of the world’s most powerful economies like the U.S, UK and Germany – that does not allow same-sex marriage.

Court ruling

The case heard in Sapporo was brought by three same-sex couples.

They argued the same-sex marriage ban breached Japanese laws on equality, and is unconstitutional.

Further, the judge ruled in favour of the group, describing the ban on same-sex marriage as “discriminatory”.

Earlier this week, the Tokyo District Court ruled the ban was a violation of the rights of Japanese citizens.

Additionally, the High Court ruling comes as momentum increases for marriage equality reform in Japan.

Several other courts in the country have ruled in favour of improved rights for same-sex couples in recent years.

However, the courts cannot force the Government to introduce legislation for same-sex marriage. Japanese leaders have not indicated any plans to legalise marriage equality.

Taiwan and Nepal are the only Asian countries where same-sex marriage is allowed, after it passed legislation in 2019.

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