The Japanese government on Monday (8 July) argued LGBTI people ‘were not expected’ and are therefore not covered by the Constitution’s marriage clause.
Thirteen couples are suing the Japanese government to recognize their unions in landmark court cases.
A Tokyo court this week heard the second oral arguments of cases being held there.
The government’s lawyers maintained that Article 24 of the Constitution referred to a man and a woman only.
They said LGBTI people were ’not expected’ when the constitution was written. Marriage laws, therefore, do not apply to them.
Plaintiff’s lawyers, meanwhile, argued that Articles 14 and 13 should guarantee LGBTI people equal treatment and the pursuit of happiness.
LGBTI Japanese existence denied
Plaintiff Atsushi Sato told the court the government’s position denied LGBTI people’s existence.
Another plaintiff, Ai Nakajima told Gay Star News she agrees with Sato.
‘I am furious how the Japanese government is still denying our LGBT existence’ she said.
She said the government’s arguments were ‘ridiculous’. If the constitution does not apply to LGBTI people, she said, the ‘Court is responsible to suggest the government to act on it.’
‘I want the Japanese government to know what is the impact to LGBT especially young ones’ she said.
‘They would also feel denied from their own country and the only choice is to fly out [of the country] or kill themselves.’
Lawyers arguing for equal marriage also noted the recent news that Japan had offered asylum to someone based on their LGBTI status. Lawyers argued this proved LGBTI identity was not a choice.
They also quizzed government lawyers on how the expected to host the Olympic Games in 2020 if they did not recognize same-sex families.
Fight for marriage rights
Homosexuality is legal in largely-conservative Japan. But the government does not recognize same-sex marriage and there is no nationwide anti-discrimination laws to protect LGBTI Japanese.
But, some local administrations offer limited rights to same-sex couples through ‘partnership certificates’.
Significantly, Japan is the only country in the G7 not to recognize same-sex unions.
What’s more, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party have campaigned for traditional heteronormative families. Its lawmakers are also notorious for anti-LGBTI comments.
Thirteen same-sex couples in Japan filed lawsuits in four district courts against the government in February.
The five female and eight male couples challenged local administrations that denied them marriage certificates. They are seeking damages of US$9,000.
The couples argue the government’s stance on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.
Ai told Gay Star News she felt positive about the trial’s outcome.
‘Since the government argument was simple and ridiculous, the chance of success is high’ she said.