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Japanese High Court Declares Same-Sex Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

The high court in the northern city of Sapporo ruled on Thursday that Japan’s prohibition on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, marking the first such decision by an appeals court on a matter that has sparked divisions within the lower levels of the judiciary.

Japan stands as the only Group of Seven nation lacking legal protection for same-sex unions, a stance contrary to the support of 70% of the public but aligned with the conservative views of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party under Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

In its ruling, the Sapporo High Court deemed the Japanese civil code’s limitations on marriage to opposite sexes as “unconstitutional” and “discriminatory,” yet dismissed the plaintiffs’ claim for damages against the government.

The court asserted that enacting same-sex marriage would not result in disadvantages or harmful effects.

Following the ruling, one plaintiff, who chose to remain anonymous, expressed surprise, stating, “I thought the ruling might be a conservative one, but it ended up exceeding my expectations. I couldn’t help but cry.”

The plaintiffs are contemplating an appeal to the Supreme Court to seek clarification on the existing law’s unconstitutionality, as stated by lawyer Tsunamori Fumiyasu at a press conference.

Government spokesperson Yoshimasa Hayashi stated that the government will monitor other forthcoming court decisions on the matter.

The debate surrounding the same-sex marriage ban has created divisions among lower courts, with some district courts upholding its constitutionality while others have deemed it unconstitutional to varying degrees.

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