In a long-awaited step toward marriage equality in Japan, the Nagoya District Court ruled on Tuesday, May 30, that the government’s policy prohibiting same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. This pressure from the court is expected to be a catalyst for existing legislation as well as future bills to enact and protect marriage equality. Asato Yamada, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, says in a statement, “the message is that the government should resolve the problem immediately.”

Japan, notoriously the only G7 nation that does not provide legal protections for same-sex spouses, has a current conservative majority in their government. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has repeatedly insisted, despite the logical fallacy inherent in his claim, that the nation’s ban on same-sex marriage was not an act of discrimination. As public opinion continues to evolve in favor of LGBTQ+ rights, the judicial system is finally taking action in favor of equality.

The case was brought by a gay couple seeking compensation for unequal treatment resulting from the government’s refusal to recognize them as legally married. While the court rejected the plaintiffs’ request for financial compensation, the ruling provides precedent for legislative action to be put in place to protect LGBTQ+ marriage. Presiding Judge Osamu Nishimura says the current system, which excludes same-sex couples from legal protection for their marriages, is unconstitutional and a human rights violation, and “there is no room for government discretion.”

While the courts are unable to force the government to take immediate action, Tuesday’s ruling aligns with a bill submitted by Japan’s Constitutional Democratic Party (CDP) that calls for same-sex marriage to be legally recognized. More legislation aligning with this mission for equality is expected to be proposed in the coming weeks. The Equally Wed heart is a trademark of Palladino Publishing, LLC.

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Featured image by Omer Sukrugoksu