Osaka district court has dismissed a lawsuit by several same-sex couples today, ruling that Japan’s same-sex marriage ban was not unconstitutional.
The court upheld the country’s ban on gay marriage, rejecting arguments from plaintiffs and denying their demand for 1 million yen ($7,405) in damages per couple.
In its final ruling, Osaka district court said: “From the perspective of individual dignity, it can be said that it is necessary to realize the benefits of same-sex couples being publicly recognized through official recognition.”
The country’s current law recognizing unions only between a man and a woman is “not considered to violate… the constitution,” the court added, noting that “public debate on what kind of system is appropriate for this has not been thoroughly carried out.”
Japan’s constitution states that “marriage shall be only with the mutual consent of both sexes.”
The dismissed lawsuit was part of a coordinated effort by multiple same-sex couples in district courts across Japan back in 2020. The Osaka case is the second one to make it to a hearing.
The plaintiffs decried the court’s decision, fearing that the ruling would further complicate the lives of same-sex couples in the country.
While Japan’s stance on homosexuality is much more liberal than most of its Asian neighbors, it still lags far behind the West in this respect.
Gay couples cannot get married legally in Japan, although several municipalities and prefectures issue rather symbolic ‘same-sex partnership’ certificates.
The certificates do not offer any legal recognition but provide some benefits, such as ensuring hospital visitation rights and helping with renting property.