May 7 2021
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Japan's failure to recognize same-sex marriage is 'unconstitutional,' court rules

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by Chie Kobayashi and Julia Hollingsworth, CNN

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Janpan Same-sex marriage
(CNN)A Japanese court has ruled that not allowing same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, a landmark decision that could herald a new era for marriage equality in the country.

It's the first time that a court has ruled on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage in Japan, the only Group of Seven (G7) country that has not recognized either same-sex civil unions or same-sex marriage.

The case began in 2019, when three couples in Hokkaido prefecture filed a lawsuit claiming 1 million yen (about $9,160) in damages each for the psychological harm caused by the government not allowing same-sex marriage.

Japan does not recognize same-sex unions nationwide, although some parts of the country issue "partnership certificates" that grant some rights benefiting heterosexual couples to same-sex couples.

Sapporo District Court in Hokkaido ruled Wednesday the government's lack of recognition for same-sex marriage was in breach of a section of the constitution that requires equal laws for everyone.

But the court dismissed the couples' claims for damages.

The three couples were among a number across Japan that are suing the government, arguing that the current law on same-sex marriage was in breach of their constitutional rights, and they should be afforded the same legal rights and privileges as heterosexual couples.

Wednesday's ruling is the first verdict in those ongoing cases.

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