Tokyo Takes on LGBTQ+ Rights

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Volunteer Writer: Isabella Gerardi


On November 30th, 2022, Tokyo courts ruled same-sex marriage unconstitutional. 

Despite this, activists say there is hope for the future as the courts also acknowledge denying members of the LQBTQ+ community the right to marriage represents a human rights violation. This statement marks a huge change in sentiment from one of the only G7 nations that still doesn’t recognize same-sex unions. 

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The court case in question involved four couples challenging the constitutionality of Japan’s same-sex marriage ban. 

The court ruled against the couples and upheld the ban under the constitution; however, the court also acknowledged that this was a problem within Japan’s constitution. The judge even stated that the ban “presents a ‘grave threat and obstacle’ to people’s humanity,” according to the Times

The ruling is significant because it addresses a need for legal protection regarding same-sex couples and families. 

Currently, the Japanese constitution defines marriage as “the mutual consent of both sexes,” a definition which harms same-sex couples who are “not allowed to inherit each other’s assets and are denied parental rights to each other’s children. Even hospital visits can be difficult” according to an article published in BBC News. This has been a source of frustration for Activist groups for a long time. 

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While the ruling was not what many had hoped for, activists like Yuri Igarashi argue there is still a silver lining. 

This decision was made only a month after Tokyo’s government authorized partnership certificates to same-sex couples, which allowed LQBTQ+ families to gain some of the same benefits and welfare programs currently allowed for heterosexual couples. 

There is a strong public movement, mainly from younger demographics, calling for Japan to change its laws and become more inclusive. 

While the government and court systems seem to be hesitant to take more inclusive steps, many hope that the future will bode better for LGBTQ+ rights in Japan.


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