Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love, and 13 couples in Japan are using the opportunity to demand marriage equality.
Openly reports that the 13 couples will file proceedings in court on Valentine’s Day, claiming that by denying marriage equality the government is violating their constitutional rights to equal treatment.
The South China Morning Post notes that it’s not the first time that the fight for marriage equality in Japan has taken a legal strategy. In 2015, more than 450 people applied to the Japan Federation of Bar Associations to protect their human rights and push to make same-sex marriage legal.
Japan is the only member of the G7 group that doesn’t recognise same-sex unions.
LGBTQ equality in Japan
- Same-sex relationships have been part of the history of Japan. Particularly prominent within ancient Buddhist monasteries, recognised in Shinto gods, and celebrated between Samurai warriors.
- Sodomy was first criminalised in 1872, but this was subsequently repealed in 1880.
- Sex among consenting adults, in private, regardless of sexual orientation or gender, is legal under Japanese law.
- Sexual orientation is not protected by national civil rights laws, which means that LGBTQ Japanese have little legal recourse when they encounter discrimination in areas such as employment, education, housing, health care, or banking.
- Same-sex couples are not allowed to legally adopt in Japan. Lesbian couples and single women are unable to access IVF.
- Article 24 of the Japanese Constitution states that “Marriage shall be based only on the mutual consent of both sexes and it shall be maintained through mutual cooperation with the equal rights of husband and wife as a basis.” Same-sex couples are not able to marry, and same-sex couples are not granted rights derived from marriage. Also, same-sex marriages performed abroad are not legally recognised in Japan and bi-national same-sex couples cannot obtain a visa for the foreign partner based on their relationship.
- Some cities have introduced a procedure for the recognition of same-sex couples for situations such as hospital visits and shared renting of apartments.