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Japan Court Upholds Ban On Same-Sex Marriage, Says Union Should Be Between Men and Women

A Japanese court has ruled that it’s constitutional to ban same-sex marriage, a decision that’s been met with extreme dismay by Japan’s LGBTQ population.

Monday’s ruling was handed down by the district court of Osaka, in southern Japan, where three couples sued the state for not allowing people of the same gender to marry. In its decision, the court argued that such a ban was legal because marriage was “between a man and a woman.”

“The reality is that the human bond between one man and one woman forms the core of the family, the natural and fundamental group unit that constitutes and supports our society,” the ruling stated. It also threw out their damages claim of one million yen ($7,414) per couple.

The ruling has been met with shock and anger by Japan’s LGBTQ activists. Many were expecting a decision in their favor as the country has been making strides to expand recognition of same-sex partners.

The Osaka court’s decision is the exact opposite of the Sapporo district court, which decided in March last year that it was unconstitutional to ban same-sex couples from getting hitched. It was the first time Japan’s judiciary recognized the legality of such unions and was greatly anticipated to pave the way for allowing same-sex marriage.

And just on Wednesday, the Tokyo metropolitan government passed a bill guaranteeing partnership certificates to same-sex unions, becoming the most populous Japanese region to do so.

But these certificates do not hold the same weight as legal marriage. They allow couples in the Japanese capital to access certain types of life insurance, receive family discounts, and be recognized as a family when applying for residency in public housing. However, same-sex couples still do not have parental rights over each other’s children.

Soyoka Yamamoto, the representative of Partnership Act for Tokyo—a nonprofit organization that helped expand legal recognition to same sex couples in the capital—told VICE World News that Monday’s court decision was “inexplicably unfortunate.”

“I live with my same-sex partner, but I live in constant anxiety because we can’t get married,” she said. She added that she felt the judiciary wasn’t performing its unnecessary functions by guaranteeing equality for all, a constitutional right in Japan.

Lawsuits challenging the Japanese government’s ban on same-sex marriage have also been filed in Nagoya, Fukuoka, and Tokyo. The next court ruling will be heard in November in the capital’s district court.

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