A Japanese district court on Wednesday ruled that not allowing same-sex couples to marry is “unconstitutional”, setting a new precedent in the only G7 nation not to fully recognise same-sex unions.
More than a dozen same-sex couples filed lawsuits in 2019 seeking to force the government to recognise gay marriage.
In the first ruling on the lawsuits, a court in Sapporo turned down a request for damages of one million yen ($9,000) per person for being denied the same legal rights as heterosexual couples.
But the court found that the failure to recognise same-sex marriage was unconstitutional – hailed as a major breakthrough by campaigners.
“I couldn’t hold back my tears. The court sincerely gave its thorough attention to our problem and I think it issued truly a good decision,” a male plaintiff told reporters outside the courthouse.
The ruling, the first in Japan on the legality of same-sex marriages, is a considerable symbolic victory in a country where the constitution defines marriage as being based on “the mutual consent of both sexes”.