Ten same-sex couples are filing a joint lawsuit against the Japanese government, calling for real marriage equality.

It is a considerable stumbling block for your marriage to be unrecognized by the government, and while heterosexual marriages can be rendered invalid without consent, same-sex marriages are never recognized by the federal Japanese government in the first place. Foreigners in same-sex partnerships are unable to secure visas in Japan based on a Japanese partner’s residency, for one thing, and even for natives it can create all manners of complications, as the government will not allow your partner to be added to your family registry.

You can actually get married as an LGBT person in Japan, and even receive a certificate of governmental support from local offices, but until the Japanese government, at the national level, recognizes the marriage as legitimate you still might be unable to receive things like hospital visitation rights, or find yourself being turned away from landlords or other social facilities with no legal recourse.

Still, the status quo is currently being challenged. On December 28 a case against the Japanese government was submitted by ten couples from four different prefectures. The case is due to undergo consideration in February and concerns the governmental interpretation of Article 24, Paragraph 1 from the Japanese constitution, which reads:

“Marriage shall be based only on the mutual consent of both sexes”

The government currently takes “both sexes” in this statement to regard “a man and a woman”, hence the lack of marriage protections for same-sex couples. According to the ten couples (six from Tokyo; one from Kansai; one from Nagoya; two in Hokkaido) the statement does not contain any language that forbids gay marriage, and the government has a duty to stand by the constitution in a manner that upholds the principles of freedom and equality.

The attitudes of the Japanese public towards LGBT individuals were reflected in a 2015 survey, and though there are plenty of stories of acceptance, occasional representation in advertising and even strides made with companies looking out for their LGBT employees, protesting against the government’s stances on marriage equality is considered tasteless even by some members of the community itself.

Responses to the impending lawsuit were mixed, of course, from the critical:

“It’s fine if they want to live as a married couple, but why should the country have to recognize it?”
“This isn’t unconstitutional. If [gay marriage] is not established in Japan, just go somewhere where it is.”

To the sympathetic:

“It sounds like they just want to be recognized as spouses legally, that’s all.”
“This story can only end with a legal recognition of their marriages. Who does it even hurt to acknowledge their marriage?”

It might not come with all the legal protections of heterosexual marriage, but at least there are more and more places to have a gay marriage in Japan now: and couple even have the option of a traditional-style Japanese ceremony now.

Source: Nico Nico News/Bengoshi.com/Bengoshi Dot Com News via My Game News Flash
Top image: Pakutaso