Japan is the only country in the G7 that doesn’t allow same-sex couples the right to marriage, but this past Wednesday in Sapporo, the district court ruled that the government’s failure to recognize same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.
The case is part of a series of lawsuits filed by same-sex couples who have suffered because they are barred from experiencing the benefits of marriage that their heterosexual counterparts reap. On Valentine’s Day 2019, many of these couples sued, with actions being brought in Sapporo, Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya. In September 2019, more same-sex couples filed suit in Fukuoka.
According to the Sapporo District Court, the “legal benefits stemming from marriages should equally benefit both homosexuals and heterosexuals.” So even though the court didn’t deliver the $9100.00 compensation that the plaintiffs had requested, the ruling itself is seen as a symbolic victory for the LGBTQ+ community and establishes a model for other district court rulings.
According to CBS News, the plaintiffs are overjoyed by the results, and believe that the ruling “is one huge step forward in Japan”.