Japanese court rules banning gay marriage unconstitutional

A Japanese court ruled on Wednesday (17) that the ban on same-sex marriages was unconstitutional, setting a legal precedent in the only G7 country, the group of the world’s major economies, which still does not fully recognize the rights of the same person . -sexual union.

The ruling was the response to a lawsuit brought by two male and one female couples asking the Japanese government for compensation of 1 million yen (R $ 51,500) for the suffering they suffered for not be able to formalize their unions.

The request for financial compensation was rejected, but the judge made an important reservation. “Sexual orientation cannot be changed or chosen by a person’s will,” said the verdict of the Sapporo court. “It’s discriminatory treatment that they can’t even receive some of the legal benefits that heterosexuals enjoy.”

After the decision was announced, the plaintiffs and their supporters displayed rainbow-colored flags and banners in front of the court.

“At first I was a little disappointed to hear the word ‘rejected’ when reading the verdict,” said Ryosuke Kunimi, one of the plaintiffs. “But then I was unable to contain my tears. The court sincerely considered our problem, and I think it made a good decision.”

A new law has yet to be passed before same-sex marriage can actually take place in Japan, but Wednesday’s decision was seen as a symbolic victory for LGBT rights.

Campaigners recognize that it may be some time before Japan, a socially conservative country, is more open to demands from this community. The plaintiffs’ lawyer, however, called the decision “revolutionary” and urged parliamentarians to work to approve a more comprehensive bill.

“Its value is absolutely immeasurable,” said Gon Matsunaka, director of the activist group Marriage for All in Japan. “Until the decision was announced we had no idea this was what we would get and I am very happy.”

Although Japanese law is considered relatively liberal by the standards of other Asian countries, the LGBT community has remained largely invisible.

Under current rules, two people of the same sex cannot legally marry, cannot inherit their partner’s property, and have no parental rights over their partner’s children.

In some municipalities, some couples can issue a certificate similar to that of a stable union that allows them, for example, to rent a property together and have the right to go to hospitals. These documents, however, do not confer the same legal rights as heterosexual couples.

Cases similar to those of the three couples from Sapporo are being evaluated in four other Japanese courts, and the decision of this fourth may directly influence these cases.

“We live the same life as heterosexuals, we have the same problems and the same joys,” said one of the plaintiffs, a woman identified in the case only by the first E. “Although our lives are exactly the same , the nation does. not recognize this. “

Katsunobu Kato, chief of staff to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, told a press conference that he had not read the court ruling in detail, but that the government would “carefully monitor” the outcome of the proceedings and others similar.

Japanese society was once again tolerant of homosexuality, as evidenced by documents that mention male samurai dating with each other. As the archipelago opened up to the world in the second half of the 19th century, Western prejudices took hold in the country.

But opinions are changing. A survey published in November by the conservative Yomiuri newspaper showed that 61% of Japanese people support same-sex marriage, while 37% are against it.

Although the same-sex relationship ceased to be considered a crime in Japan since 1880, the stigma to which it can be subjected leads many LGBT people not to take responsibility for their sexuality, not even for their families.

Wednesday’s decision comes two days after a Vatican announcement banning priests and other ministers of the Catholic Church from blessing same-sex unions.

According to a doctrinal body, any type of relationship that is not based on “the indissoluble union of a man and a woman” cannot receive the approval of the Church, because “God cannot bless sin ”.

The year 2020 brought considerable progress in terms of legal protection for LGBT people, but same-sex relationship is still considered a crime in 69 countries, according to the main global report on the subject, published annually by the ILGA (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association).

Being homosexual in Brazil ceased to be a crime in 1831. Before that, colonial law still stipulated that anyone who committed “the sin of sodomy” must be “burned and done by powder fire, so that his body and his grave can never be Memory “.

Civil marriage between persons of the same sex was authorized after a decision of the Supreme Court (2011) and a resolution of the CNJ (National Council of Justice) in 2013.

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