LGBT couples want to be heard despite legal barriers on Saint Valentine’s Day

Choosing Valentine’s Day to make a heartfelt statement, gay couples will file the first- ever lawsuits in Japan challenging the constitutionality of not recognizing same-sex marriages.


The plaintiffs in the group suits are 13 same-sex couples who reside in Tokyo and seven other prefectures and range in age from their 20s to 50s. The lawsuits will be filed at four district courts in Sapporo, Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka on Feb. 14.


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A team of lawyers representing the plaintiffs will argue that it is unconstitutional for the central government not to allow same-sex marriages as it infringes on the freedom of marriage and equality under the law, guaranteed in the nation’s Constitution.


They will demand 1 million yen ($9,000) per plaintiff in damages on the basis of the State Redress Law, contending that the Diet has failed to revise the Civil Law and other relevant legislation to allow same-sex marriages.


However, public offices do not recognize gay marriages as legal even if the partners try to list them in their family registers on the grounds that the Civil Law and the Family Registration Law presuppose that marriage is between a man and a woman.


According to the Equal Marriage Alliance, a Tokyo-based nonprofit advocate of the legal recognition of same-sex marriage in Japan, 25 countries and regions recognize gay marriages.


Italy, where the Catholic Church that has long deemed same-sex marriages as taboo maintains a dominant presence, moved to recognize same-sex couples as having rights equal to married couples in 2016.


Nishikawa has been hoping to take the issue to court after learning of a wave of lawsuits filed in the United States and across Europe demanding the legal recognition of same-sex marriages.


Nishikawa and Ono have lived together for 14 years. Both have children from previous marriages to men. The couple lives with two high school-age children.


Reference: Gay couples seek legal recognition in Valentine’s Day lawsuits


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