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Japan Court Rules Against Same Sex Marriage, Activists Protest

A Japanese court has ruled against same sex marriage in the country, the Court ruled that the country’s failure to recognise marriage by same-sex, is constitutional.

The district court in western Japan’s Osaka rejected arguments made by three same-sex couples as part of a series of suits filed by activists seeking marriage equality.

According to the court ruling, “From the perspective of individual dignity, it can be said that it is necessary to realise the benefits of same-sex couples being publicly recognised through official recognition.”

But the present failure to recognise such unions “is not considered to violate the constitution”, the ruling added, saying “public debate on what kind of system is appropriate for this has not been thoroughly carried out.”

The ruling became a setback for activists after a landmark verdict, last year, found otherwise.

Akiyoshi Miwa, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs in the case, said he was “shocked” by the court’s unwillingness to intervene in the debate.

“It means the judge is saying the court doesn’t have to actively get involved in human rights issues,” Miwa said. 

Meanwhile, Plaintiff Machi Sakata, who got married to her American partner in the United States, state of Oregon, said she “couldn’t believe the ruling.” 

The court also ruled that if a framework similar to marriage was created then same-sex partners could receive legal benefits. 

The verdict came after a district court in northern Sapporo last year found the opposite, ruling that the government’s failure to allow same-sex marriage violated the constitution’s provision guaranteeing equality under the law.

That ruling was welcomed by campaigners as a major victory that would pile pressure on lawmakers to accept same-sex unions.

Japan’s constitution stipulates that “marriage shall be only with the mutual consent of both sexes.”

In recent years however, local authorities across the country had made moves to recognise same-sex partnerships, although such recognition does not carry the same rights as to marriage under the law.

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