Legalising same-sex marriage in Japan

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04/08/2021

Last month, a Japanese district court for the first time ruled that not allowing same-sex couples to marry is unconstitutional. The verdict by the Sapporo District Court was a result of simultaneous lawsuits against the nation demanding marriage equality as well as compensation for psychological damages. Although the court rejected demands for reparation of 1 million yen (US$9100), it was a symbolic triumph not only for the couples, but also for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Japan. In principle, the right to marriage is guaranteed by Article 24 of the Japanese Constitution, which holds “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”. The Japanese government has consistently denied the right of same-sex marriage based on the interpretation that Article 24 guarantees the right to heterosexual marriage. Moreover, the Civil Code and Family Register Act in Japan refer to conditions of marriage between a “husband and wife”, but do not mention any conditions for same-sex marriage.

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