Decision could affect outcomes of other ongoing lawsuits.

On Wednesday, Sapporo District Court Judge Tomoko Takabe came to a decision in a lawsuit filed by three same-sex couples against the Japanese government following the rejection of their marriage applications which were submitted in February of 2019. Though similar lawsuits are ongoing in other parts of Japan, Takabe is the first to render a verdict, and her judgement is that the government refusing to recognize same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

A key point in the trial was the plaintiffs’ contention that Article 24 of the Japanese Constitution, which states that “Marriage is a union to be based on the mutual agreement of both sexes only” is simply an indicator that marriage is to be entered into by the free will of both spouses, and is not a prohibition of same-sex marriage. Takabe agreed with that stance, rejecting the alternate interpretation that the Constitutional clause indicates that marriage is to be a union of two individuals of different sexes.

The ruling is not a total victory for the plaintiffs, though, as Takabe dismissed the couples’ request for one million yen (US$9,660) each as compensation for mental anguish caused by the rejection of their marriage applications and a failure to comply with Article 14 of the Constitution, which guarantees “legal equality.”

In addition to the three couples from Hokkaido Prefecture who filed the lawsuit in Sapporo, 11 other same-sex couples are currently in the middle of similar litigation in district courts in Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka, and Nagoya, with decisions yet to be reached by their presiding judges.

Sources: Mainichi Shimbun via Livedoor News via Otakomu, FNN
Top image: Pakutaso
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