TOKYO: A Japanese court on Wednesday ruled for the first time that the government's failure to recognise same-sex marriage is unconstitutional as it violates the right to equality.
According to Kyodo News, but the Sapporo District Court, ruling on a suit brought by three same-sex couples in Hokkaido, rejected their demand for 1 million yen each for psychological damage caused by what they called the government's negligence in not amending the law to allow them to marry.
It reported that the plaintiffs were among 13 couples who filed similar lawsuits on Valentine's Day in 2019 in Sapporo, Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya. Another three same-sex couples filed a suit in Fukuoka in September that year.
Kyodo news further reported that the three couples in Hokkaido -- two male couples and one female couple -- said they had tried to register their marriages with local authorities in January 2019 but were rebuffed on the grounds that same-sex marriage has no legal status.
The three couples in Hokkaido -- two male couples and one female couple -- said they had tried to register their marriages with local authorities in January 2019 but were rebuffed on the grounds that same-sex marriage has no legal status.
The court went in favour of the couples who claimed the government is violating Article 14 of the Constitution, which ensures the right to equality.
The crux of the lawsuit revolved around the interpretation of marriage in Article 24 of the Constitution. It stipulates that "Marriage shall be based only on the mutual consent of both sexes and it shall be maintained through mutual cooperation with the equal rights of husband and wife as a basis."
According to CNN, homosexuality has been legal in Japan since 1880, and the country is relatively liberal compared with some other Asian nations. Only one place in Asia has legalised same-sex marriage -- Taiwan.
Two Tokyo wards passed an ordinance in 2015 that allowed same-sex couples to get "partnership certificates" giving them some of the same rights as married heterosexual couples. Since then, dozens of municipalities have passed ordinances unofficially recognizing same-sex relationships.