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Japanese court backs right to same-sex marriage, says lack of recognition is unconstitutional

A Japanese court ruled that the country’s lack of legal recognition for same-sex marriage violates the constitution.

Photo by Tianshu Liu from

Rainbow rising in Japan, where a court ruled that the country’s lack of legal recognition for same-sex marriage violates the constitution.

The Sapporo District Court on the northern island of Hokkaido handed down the decision on Wednesday (March 17), the first in a series of similar damages suits filed by same-sex couples in five courts around the country. At least for the case that was decided by the court, three couples said their rights were breached because equality and freedom of marriage are enshrined in the constitution.

A number of local authorities have actually already started recognizing same-sex partnerships in Japan.

The Fukuoka Municipal Government, for instance, started to officially recognize the partnerships of LGBT couples in April 2018.

Meanwhile, the city of Sapporo started issuing cards in June 2018 to serve as legal and official proof of LGBT partnerships.

However, Japan isn’t all-out pro-LGBTQIA yet.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, for one, was quoted as saying in the parliament that the constitution, unchanged since 1947, did not envisage the recognition of marriage between two people of the same sex. The issue “concerns the foundations of the family in this country and needs to be considered with extreme caution,” he stated.

Taiwan remains the only Asian country that recognizes same-sex marriage, though only of its citizens.

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