Japanese same-sex couple overjoyed by marriage ruling

Japan Today -- Mar 23
Jenny and Narumi wept for happiness last week when a Japanese court ruled that barring same-sex marriages was unconstitutional, a decision that allowed them to move a step closer to a legal marriage and starting a family.

The ruling by the Sapporo district court, the first in Japan on the legality of same-sex marriages, was a major symbolic victory in Japan, the only country in the Group of Seven major nations to not fully recognize same-sex partnerships.

For Jenny and Narumi, who plan on a life together and have held a non-legally binding marriage ceremony, it was much more personal.

"I felt light, the light of hope," said Narumi, 27. Both she and Jenny declined to give their last names to Reuters due to Japan's still-conservative views on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) couples.

"It was a soft hope that perhaps soon, I don't know when, I might be able to marry Jenny in Japan."

It was love at first sight for Jenny, 28, when she met Narumi in January 2020 via a dating app.

Their romance developed quickly, and by August they were living together and had taken out a partnership certificate, which helps with renting apartments and hospital visits but doesn't provide legal guarantees such as inheritance rights or custody of a partner's children.

"We're really happy," said Jenny, who is half-American and half-Japanese. "But if we could get legally married, for example, we could become parents.

"As it is, the child would be legally registered as having only one of us as its parent."

The two have discussed moving to the United States if nothing changes in Japan, since Jenny is a U.S. citizen.

Last week's ruling was on one of five similar ongoing cases in Japan. The ruling could set a precedent that influences other cases, but for same-sex marriage to be allowed, a new law needs to be put in place, which is likely to take some time.

- Japan Today