Japanese Supreme Court Upholds Same-Sex Marriage Ban Despite G7 Pressure

In November 2022, a Tokyo court upheld the ban on same-sex marriage in Japan, ruling that it was discriminatory to deny same-sex couples legal privileges. Activists for human rights applauded the ruling as a success in emphasizing the need to revise existing laws.[0] This ruling comes despite a landmark decision in 2021 that declared queer citizens should have the right to get married in the country.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has come under fire for saying the nation’s same-sex marriage ban is not discriminatory.[1] A few weeks ago, he issued an apology to the LGBTQ community for the homophobic comments uttered by an assistant who was subsequently terminated.[0] However, he has also reiterated his position that a ban on same-sex marriage is “not unconstitutional” but said his stand should not be seen as a form of discrimination.[0]

US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has urged Japan to move forward on legislation that protects its LGBTQ+ citizens ahead of the Group of Seven (G7) summit in May.[2] Activists in the area have urged the government to make same-sex marriage legal across the nation, yet Japan is the only one of the G7 nations that does not have such recognition.[2]

Marriage for Equality Japan (MFEJ) has noted a shift in public opinion in regards to same-sex marriage, particularly among younger voters.[0] A recent poll indicates that two-thirds of voters are in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage.[0] MFEJ chairperson Makiko Terahara stated that she believes one of the reasons the government is out of touch with public opinion is because the majority of those in power are elderly men.[0]

Couples have challenged the prohibition in court, with varying levels of success.[0] The nation is also under pressure from its G7 peers to recognize LGBTQ rights as the country prepares to host the bloc's next meeting in May.[0] In the region, Taiwan is the sole area that acknowledges same-sex marriage.[0] Results of a public opinion poll conducted earlier this month indicated that the majority of Japanese people are in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage in Japan.

In an interview with Bloomberg News, Ocasio-Cortez commented, “I think it is essential for the G7 to demonstrate unity in their shared values as a group.”[2]

0. “LGBTQ rights: Japan PM under fire for same-sex marriage remarks” Yahoo News Canada, 2 Mar. 2023, https://ca.news.yahoo.com/lgbtq-rights-japan-pm-under-104151147.html

1. “Japan prime minister denies same-sex marriage ban is ‘unjust'” PinkNews, 1 Mar. 2023, https://www.thepinknews.com/2023/03/01/fumio-kishida-japan-prime-minister-same-sex-marriage/

2. “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Democrats pressure Japan to advance LGBTQ+ rights” Gay Times Magazine, 23 Feb. 2023, https://www.gaytimes.co.uk/life/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-japan-lgbtq-rights

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