Ten same-sex couples in Japan are planning to file a lawsuit against the government for not recognizing marriage equality.
The couples’ lawsuit states that the government’s position on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, The Japan Times reports.
The suit refers to a passage in Article 24 of the constitution, which says: ‘Marriage shall be based only on the mutual consent of both sexes.’
Lawyers representing the couples say that the wording means that marriage equality should be officially recognized under the constitution.
However, the government claims that this, and that the term ‘husband and wife’ which is used in the civil law and the family registration law, only applies to heterosexual couples.
‘We want our call to be widespread so that the freedom to marry will be recognized for everyone,’ said Shinya Maezono, one of the lawyers involved in the lawsuit.
The couples involved are seeking compensation from the government. They will file the suits in various courts throughout Japan, including in Tokyo and Nagoya.
Far from full equality
Japan is considered as generally LGBTI-friendly while compared to other nations in Asia.
The scheme is designed to make it easier for same-sex couples navigate legal and bureaucratic issues, such as registering their accommodation or visiting their partners at a hospital.
However, same-sex couples are still far from achieving full equality in Japan.
There have also been recent disputes over the attitudes towards the LGBTI community by some politicians in Japan’s ruling party.
In July, Mio Sugita, a lower-house lawmaker, received widespread condemnation for describing same-sex couples ‘unproductive’ and saying they should be barred from claiming welfare.
A petition demanding Sugita apologize gained over 25,000 signatures, and a protest was staged outside the headquarters of the ruling party, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) of which Sugita is a member.
In the same month, fellow LDP lawmaker, Tom Tanigawa, courted controversy after saying same-sex marriage was ‘like a hobby’.
The LDP later distanced themselves from the MPs’ comments.
Sugita later said her comments were inappropriate, though refused to apologize for them.