Ten same-sex couples from Japan are suing the government for not recognising same-sex marriages. The Japan Times reports that the couples are seeking some form of compensation and that their claims will be filed in courts around the country, like in Tokyo or Nagoya.
Article 24 of the Japanese constitution reads: âMarriage shall be based only on the mutual consent of both sexes.â Currently, the Japanese government are interpreting that to only be between heterosexual couples, but lawyers and some legal scholars argue that the wording of the constitution does not discriminate against same-sex couples.
The government is also claiming that marriage should remain between a man and a woman as the terms âhusband and wifeâ are used in civil and family registration law.
One of the lawyers for the couples, Shinya Maezono said: âWe want our call to be widespread so that the freedom to marry will be recognized for everyone.â
Although same-sex marriage isnât legal in Japan, some of the countryâs cities are still legally recognising same-sex couples. Last year, Sapporo started handing out certificates called âpartnership vowsâ.
While the certificates donât offer the same legal rights as marriage, they do allow partners to become recipients of each otherâs life insurance and entitle them to family benefits such as discounts on mobile phone services.
One 32-year-old woman who got one of the partnership vow certificates said: âI was finally able to do it. It may be self-satisfaction but I want other people to use the system without caring what people around them think, because they can become happy.â
However, Mio Sugita, a Japanese MP from the Liberal Democratic Party attracted a lot of controversy this year after she accused members of the LGBTQ community of being âunproductiveâ due to the fact that they donât bear children.
She then went on to say that the social acceptance of homosexuality could cause greater âunhappinessâ that would lead to societal collapse if it was âdeprived of common senseÂ and normalcy.â
Taiga Ishikawa, Japanâs first openly gay lawmaker hit back at Sugitaâs comments, saying: âHomosexuality is not the definition of unhappiness.Â Itâs discriminatory remarks like Sugitaâs that make us unhappy.â
However, Sugitaâs comments were not criticised by the party. Toshihiro Nikai, the partyâs Secretary General told reporters: âDifferent people have different views, let alone their political positions.â