In a blow to the LGBTQ community, an Osaka court ruled that Japan’s same-sex marriage ban was not unconstitutional.

The ruling on Monday, June 20, makes the country the only Group of Seven nation that does not allow people of the same gender to marry.

Three same-sex couples went to court claiming the marriage ban was unconstitutional, only the second time such a case has been heard in Japan’s courts. However, the court ruled against him and in doing so also rejected his claims for damages.

Campaigners’ hopes of pressuring the Japanese government to change the law were dashed after the court upheld a Sapporo court’s ruling in March 2021.

Public support for same-sex marriage is growing in Japan and the ruling has set social media on fire, with lawyers working on a third case due to be heard in a Tokyo court saying the ruling was “unbelievable”.

Japan’s constitution defines marriage as based on “the mutual consent of both sexes”, but the introduction of association rights for same-sex couples in the capital of Tokyo last week raised hopes for activists and lawyers.

Current rules in Japan do not allow same-sex marriages, nor do they allow couples to inherit property or parental rights over their children. Partnership certificates issued by some municipalities allow same-sex couples to rent homes jointly and have the right to hospital visits, but their rights are still severely restricted despite the fact that the country is one of the most liberal in the Far East. .

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said the issue must be “carefully considered” but his ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has revealed no plans to review the matter or propose legislation.

Those in favor of legalizing same-sex marriages have said a change would have far-reaching social and economic implications, and Masa Yanagisawa, head of Prime Services at Goldman Sachs and a board member of the activist group Marriage for all Japan He told Reuters: “If Japan wants to take back a leadership position in Asia, it has a very good chance at the moment.”

He added that: “International firms are reviewing their Asian strategy and LGBTQ inclusion is becoming an issue…International companies don’t want to invest in a place that is not LGBTQ-friendly.”

The ruling that Japan’s same-sex marriage ban is not unconstitutional leaves Taiwan as the only Far Eastern country to have made the change.

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