LGBTQ+ activists in Japan demand marriage equality for same-sex couples

14 February 2024, 13:34

LGBTQ activists
Japan LGBTQ. Picture: PA

Japan is the only country in the G7 that excludes same-sex couples from the right to marry.

Activists and LGBTQ+ community members have handed out colourful chocolates for Valentine’s Day in Tokyo, marking the fifth anniversary of the launch of a legal battle to achieve marriage equality for same-sex couples.

Japan is the only member of the G7 group of nations that still excludes same-sex couples from the right to legally marry and receive spousal benefits.

Support for legalising marriage equality has grown among the Japanese public, but the governing Liberal Democratic Party, known for its conservative family values and reluctance to promote gender equality and sexual diversity, remains the main opposition to the campaign.

Gathered outside of the busy Shinagawa Station in Tokyo, activists and LGBTQ+ community members urged for equal marriage rights as they handed out bags of Meiji “marble chocolate” sweets – Japan’s version of M&Ms – with flyers explaining their lawsuits.

Wednesday is also the fifth anniversary of the launch of first lawsuits petitioning for LGBTQ+ marriage rights.

Tokyo demo
LGBTQ activists distribute chocolates to morning commuters at Shinagawa Station (AP)

Since February 14 2019, more than a dozen couples have filed lawsuits in six separate cases at five courts across Japan.

Four of the five rulings so far have found that not granting the right was unconstitutional – one said it was in line with the constitution, while the ruling in the sixth petition, before a district court in Tokyo, is due next month.

At Wednesday’s rally, 41-year-old former police officer who goes by the name of Kotfe, an alias to protect his identity because of fears for legal ramifications, said he and his male partner hope there will be more public awareness and support for sexual diversity and same-sex unions.

He and his partner, a former firefighter, have been together for 12 years and plan to consider marriage once they achieve the right.

Fumiko Suda, a lawyer representing plaintiffs in Japan’s northern city of Sapporo – one of the venues of the six legal case – said she was frustrated over the government’s reluctance to legalise marriage equality.

Marriage equality is now recognised in 36 countries, not only in the West but also in Asia, including Taiwan, Thailand and Nepal, according to the Marriage for All Japan, a civil group which Ms Suda is a member of.

LGBTQ demo
The demo also marks five years since the start of a legal battle to achieve marriage equality (AP)

While Japan’s conservative government is seen as stonewalling diversity, recent surveys show a majority of Japanese back legalising same-sex marriage. Support among the business community has rapidly increased.

Though critics said it was watered down, the government enacted an LGBTQ+ awareness promotion law in June. The Supreme Court separately ruled that Japan’s law requiring compulsory sterilisation surgery for transgender people to officially change their gender is unconstitutional.

“Despite many years I have spent with my partner, we are considered strangers, not family” in the eyes of the law, said Hiromi Hatogai, a lesbian who is part of the case before the Tokyo district court.

“We only want to marry and (be) legally recognised, just like any other couple,” she said.

By Press Association

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

The Israeli Iron Dome air defence system launches to intercept missiles fired from Iran

Israel hails ‘success’ in blocking Iran’s unprecedented attack

Russia Ukraine War

More civilians die in Ukraine amid warning US aid delays will hamper Kyiv forces

Bill Nighy

Bill Nighy and Paloma Faith join celebrities demanding Government act over Sudan

Dawn Singleton was among six victims of the stabbings

Victim of Sydney stabbings 'bought wedding dress days earlier' and was preparing to send out invitations

The IDF said over 300 weapons were fired by Iran.

Israel says Iran conflict 'not over' and vows to 'collect a price when timing is right', as US urges restraint

Poland Abortion

Polish opponents of abortion march against recent steps to liberalise strict law

Five of the six victims from the stabbing have been named.

Victims of Sydney stabbings named as heartbroken tributes flood in following attack by knifeman who killed six

A demonstrator waves Iranian and Palestinian flags during an anti-Israeli gathering at the Felestin (Palestine) Square in Tehran, Iran

What is the fallout from Iran’s attack on Israel?

Joe Biden has reaffirmed the US's commitment to defending Israel's security.

Biden reaffirms ‘ironclad support' of Israel as he plans G7 meeting to coordinate ‘diplomatic response to Iran attack’

The IDF said over 300 weapons were fired by Iran.

‘Together we will win’: Netanyahu vows to fight off attacks from Iran after over 300 drones and missiles fired at Israel

Israeli's military have fought off a massive Iranian drone and missile attack - downing more than 200 weapons launched by the hostile state with the help of ace RAF pilots.

Israel fights off massive Iran attack - downing over 200 missiles and drones with help of RAF

Plans have been drawn up for an evacuation of Brits from the Middle East. Defence Secretary Grant Shapps (l) and protesters outside the British Embassy in Tehran (r)

Brits living in the Middle East could be rescued by the Royal Marines in 'Dunkirk-style' evacuation

The knifeman who killed six people in a rampage at a Sydney shopping centre has been named as 40-year-old Joel Cauchi (left)

Pictured: Sydney knifeman, 40, who killed six people before being shot dead by brave policewoman

Iranian drones and missiles have arrived in Israel with explosions in the skies - as officials warn of a "significant response" to the massive attack.

Explosions in skies and sirens across Jerusalem amid Iranian attack - as Israel warns of 'significant response'

USS Bataan which is heading to the Eastern Mediterranean (main) and Joe Biden (r)

US sends amphibious warship and 2,500 Marines into the Eastern Mediterranean after Iran attacks Israel

US and UK forces are helping defend Israel from Iranian drones and missiles after a massive attack was launched.

British and American jets 'shoot down Iranian drones' as Rishi Sunak slams Iran for 'reckless' attack against Israel