Same Sex Marriage Banned in Japan

Emily Meneses

On November 30, 2022, in Tokyo, Japan’s courts announced that they have banned same-sex marriage. The cause of this incident was the lack of protection for same-sex families; it violated Japan’s human rights law. Although many senior members of the prime minister’s cabinet have supported same-sex marriage, Fumio Kishida, Prime Minister of Japan, hasn’t disclosed any plans to review the laws.

Nobuhito Kawasaki, a lawyer involved in this case, said that “while marriage remains between a man and a woman, and the ruling supported that, it also said that the current situation with no legal protections for same-sex families is not good and suggested something must be done about it.” Similar to this, in the Sapporo court, which was the first judicial decision on the prohibition of not recognizing same-sex marriages, a case involving four couples (8 people) claiming that prohibiting same-sex marriages violated their human rights and demanding 1 million yen was heard last year, and the court denied the request.

Japan has made homosexuality legal since 1890 and has been one of the more liberal nations compared to other Asian nations. Singapore has legalized gay marriage, and for India’s Supreme Court in 2018, gay sex wasn’t a criminal offense, though India doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage. This was followed by China, which also does not recognize same-sex marriage despite growing support for the LGBTQ community; they haven’t set laws for same-sex relationships, but it’s more looked down on. Moving forward, most Asian nations have improved their support of LGBTQ in the past few years.

“There were parts of this that were disappointing, but parts of it gave me hope,” said Katsu, a male plaintiff (he gave only his first name). After the case, the US Senate passed a same-sex marriage protection bill, and Singapore lifted its ban on gay sex. Japan has limited the future of legalizing same-sex marriages. Two other cases are settling in the central and western courts of Japan, along with activists and lawyers, in the expectation that judicial decisions would gradually support the idea of same-sex marriage and pressure lawmakers to alter Japan’s system soon. Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam implied in parliament that “we will try and maintain a balance… to uphold a stable society with traditional, heterosexual family values, but with space, for homosexuals to live their lives and contribute to society.”