Major opposition parties in Japan submitted a bill today (3 June) calling for marriage equality.
But where the ruling party are the conservative Liberal Democratic Party (自由民主党), politicians have adopted gender-neutral language in an effort to persuade lawmakers.
What does the bill say?
Behind the bill are the Constitutional Democratic Party (立憲民主党 ) and Japanese Communist Party (日本共産党). The left-wing bloc pitched a vastly gender-neutral marital policy.
For example, terms such as ‘party of marriage’ are used in lieu of ‘husband’ or ‘wife.’ Moreover, ‘parent’ used instead of ‘mother’ or ‘father.’
However, marriage advocates in the country face a legislative hurdle in the form of Article 24 of the Japanese consitituion.
It states: ‘Marriage shall be based only on the mutual consent of both sexes and it shall be maintained through mutual cooperation with the equal rights of husband and wife as a basis.’
Will Japan pass marriage equality before the Olympic Games?
According to Bloomberg, supporters of the marriage bid argue that the article concerns family registries, not same-sex marriage.
Furthermore, many point towards the country’s capital, Tokyo, hosting the 2020 Olympic Games as a reason to pass marriage equality.
Finally, politicians also note that opinion polls suggest the Japanese public are more tolerant than the government they voted in.
Notably, around 78% of Japanese aged between 20-50 are in favor of marriage equality.
‘No one can predict the future’
Jessica Gordon, Stonewall Japan’s vice president, asked herself, who is bisexual genderqueer, the same question.
‘I think Japanese people are becoming more embolden to come to pride events,’ they said.
‘Tokyo Rainbow Pride continuously breaks its attendance and parade participation records every year.’
‘No one can predict the future, but I want to believe that Japan will come to see that LGBTQIA+ people just want the same rights as any other straight couple.
‘I believe Japanese LGBTQIA+ people are being vocal and putting their support heavily into this movement, as shown through all these lawsuits and activist actions they are taking within this past year.’
LGBTI rights in Japan
Through its centuries of tradition to its neon light-infused present, Japan’s culture has showed little hostility towards LGBTI people.
However, for its government administration in the National Diet, the country’s bicameral legislative, the body has barely budged in approving pro-LGBTI bills.
Homosexuality was only briefly illegal between 1872 and 1880.
But courts and lawmakers have never officially recognized LGBTI relationships. While there are protections in some cities, there is no national security against queer discrimination.