Japan high court hold same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional News
アメリカ大使館, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Japan high court hold same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional

Japan’s Sapporo High Court affirmed on Thursday that the country’s current ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

This ruling from the High Court upholds the Sapporo Lower Court 2021 decision that found the ban unconstitutional. However, Thursday’s rulings are the first time a High Court in the country has gone as far as to declare the ban explicitly unconstitutional.

The ban on same-sex marriage was deemed unconstitutional by the High Court because it was in violation of both Article 14 and Article 24 of Japan’s Constitution. Article 14 relates to the right to equality without discrimination. Regarding Article 24, the High Court held that marriage can be read to include same-sex marriage, as the article defines marriage as being based only on the consent of both parties. The High Court, consistent with similar rulings in the country on the matter, did not award damages to the plaintiffs for emotional distress caused by the ban.

The High Court decision follows two legislative moves in Japan addressing LGBTQIA+ rights. In 2022, Tokyo’s metro government began to acknowledge same-sex partnerships, and in 2023, the federal government passed a law to better protect the rights of LGBTQIA+ people

This ruling comes after a lengthy back and forth within the Japanese courts. In 2019, Thirteen same-sex couples filed lawsuits across four districts in Japan alleging that the country’s denial of same-sex marriage is a violation of the Constitution. Then, the Sapporo District Court found that the government’s failure to recognize same-sex marriage is unconstitutional because it violates the right to equality. However, in 2022, the Osaka District Court held that the country’s ban was not unconstitutional. Then, in 2023, the Nagoya District Court held that the ban was unconstitutional. The Fukuoka District Court also found the ban unconstitutional.