The unions are not explicitly banned in Japan, but they are not recognized by the national government or most places. The authorities have long argued that their position is supported by a provision in the country’s constitution that stipulates that marriage can only take place with the consent of both sexes, a provision intended to curb Japan’s once common use of regular marriages. stop.
The Japanese public remains divided in its stance on the subject. On the one hand, the idea of same-sex marriage enjoys widespread support, and even the country’s infamous rigid business community has begun to embrace the idea of marriage equality, market products to gay couples, and improve employee protection.
On an individual level, many gay people are still reluctant to come out for fear of discrimination from a society that is notorious for the often intense pressure to comply.
For the plaintiffs, Wednesday morning was an emotional roller coaster. One of the plaintiffs, Ryosuke Kunimi, told a news conference later that day that the first headlines about the ruling highlighted the rejection of the court’s compensation claims, which provoked a moment of deep anxiety.
But when he saw the rest of the decision, he said, “I could not hold back my tears.”
Same-sex couples have long felt that “discrimination is natural, that we can do nothing about it,” he said, adding that the court ruling clearly shows that this is not true.
The couple filed their case in February 2019 as part of a broader national campaign to put pressure on the Japanese government to recognize same-sex marriage. An additional ten couples filed for three days in the same day in three other courts across the country, and another couple later filed a similar case in the city of Fukuoka. Judgments in those cases are expected later this year.
While the plaintiffs said they were satisfied with Wednesday’s ruling, they issued warning about the way forward. The ruling could face legal challenges. Eventually, they will need parliament to abandon its long-standing opposition.
Takeharu Kato, one of the lawyers representing the couples, told reporters that he intends to appeal against the court’s decision to deny compensation.