Japan court rules failure to recognize same-sex marriage unconstitutional

Japan Times -- Mar 17
A Sapporo court ruled Wednesday that the government's failure to recognize same-sex marriage is unconstitutional in the country's first judicial ruling on marriage equality.

The ruling set a new precedent in the only Group of Seven nation not to fully recognize same-sex partnerships, though it rejected demands for damages to be paid. Still, it is a major symbolic victory for the LGBTQ community and activists in a country whose Constitution defines marriage as being based on "the mutual consent of both sexes."

The Sapporo District Court threw out the demand for damages by the six plaintiffs — two male couples and one female couple — who had asked that the government pay ¥1 million each due to the pain they suffered for not being able to legally marry.

In the landmark ruling, presiding Judge Tomoko Takebe sided with the couples who claimed the government was violating Article 14 of the Constitution that ensures the right to equality, describing as "discriminatory" the government's failure to implement legal measures to offer "even a degree" of marital benefits to same-sex couples.

However, she rejected the plaintiffs' demand for compensation, saying that the state reparations law was not violated, noting the difficulty for the Diet to quickly recognize the problem.

The lawsuit also revolved around the interpretation of marriage in Article 24 of the Constitution that stipulates, "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."

Takebe agreed with the government that there was no violation of Article 24 of the Constitution, saying it related to heterosexual marriage and did not mention same-sex marriage.

But the recognition that not allowing them to marry was unconstitutional was the victory the plaintiffs, their lawyers and activists had been hoping for.

- Japan Times

同性同士の結婚が認められないのは憲法に違反しているとして北海道の同性カップル3組が国を訴えた裁判で、札幌地裁は全国で初めて憲法で定められた法の下の平等に反する違憲の判断を示しました。  札幌と帯広に住む同性カップル3組は、同性同士の結婚を国が認めないのは憲法24条が保障する「婚姻の自由」などに違反しているとして国に損害賠償を求めていました。  国は「憲法24条で規定されている『両性』とは男女を意味し、同性婚は想定していなかった」と反論していました。  札幌地裁は原告の訴えを棄却しましたが、「同性愛者に対して婚姻を認めないのは立法府の裁量を超えていて差別取り扱いにあたるとして憲法14条に反するとの判断を示しました。  今回の判決について原告の1人は「憲法14条に違反していると聞き、涙が止まらなかった」と話しています。 - ANNnewsCH