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Japan same-sex marriage ban ruled ‘unconstitutional’ again by courts

Japan same-sex marriage ban ruled 'unconstitutional' again by courts
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The case for the legalisation of same-sex marriage has gained momentum due to two further decisions rendered by district courts in Japan.

The nation’s current ban was declared “unconstitutional” this week by judges in Tokyo and Sapporo, following in the footsteps of earlier historic rulings.

According to decisions made in several cases, the ban violated the rights of the people.

Activists applauded the rulings, but cautioned that politicians would still need to take the historic step of legalising same-sex unions.

Currently, Japan remains the only G7 country not to fully recognise same-sex couples or offer them clear legal protection. But it is not an outlier in Asia, where Taiwan is the only place to allow same-sex unions.

While several municipalities and prefectures in Japan issue same-sex partnership certificates, which provide some benefits, they do not offer equal legal recognition.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s government has come under increased pressure on the issue in recent years as public support has grown significantly. Polls show up to 70% of the population supports same-sex unions.

But Mr Kishida has struggled to pass reforms in his own party in the face of fierce opposition from traditional leadership.

His government is yet to disclose any plans to change or review marriage legislation. But it has passed a law criminalising discrimination on the basis of sexuality – but this has been criticised by LGBT+ activists for stopping well short of recognising marriage equality.

On Thursday, a Sapporo court ruling said it was “strongly expected” that parliament would at some point “institutionalise an appropriate same-sex marriage law”, noting the broad public support.

The court also found that: “Living in accordance with one’s gender identity and sexual orientation is an inalienable right rooted in important person interests.”

At least half a dozen legal cases challenging the marriage ban have been waged since since 2019. In 2021, the Sapporo court made a landmark ruling declaring the ban unconstitutional.

The cases have been closely watched in a country still largely bound by traditional gender roles and family values.

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Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury is the Editor of The Daily Dazzling Dawn. Previously, he has been serving in important positions in all the famous national dailies of the Bangladesh since the nineties. He has played a commendable role in journalism by participating in various events at the national and international levels. United Nations Conference, World Climate Conference, SAARC Summit are notable among them.

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