A Japanese court on Tuesday found that the country's ban on same-sex marriage did not infringe on the country's constitution and rejected the compensation demands of three couples who claimed their right to free union and equality had been breached.
In its decision, the Osaka court rejected the plaintiffs' petition for 1 million yen ($7,400) per pair in damages for discrimination.
In 2019, 14 same-sex couples filed lawsuits against the government in five major cities - Sapporo, Tokyo, Nagoya, Fukuoka, and Osaka - for breaching their rights to free union and equality. Among the plaintiffs were two male couples and one female pair.
The judgement by the Osaka District Court is the second on the matter, and it contradicts a decision made by a Sapporo court last year that declared the prohibition on same-sex marriages illegal.
Japan is the only member of the Group of Seven major industrialized nations that does not recognize same-sex unions.
The couples stated that they had been subjected to unlawful discrimination by being denied the same economic and legal privileges as heterosexual couples who are married.
Support for sexual variety has increased in Japan, although lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons still lack legal safeguards. LGBTQ people frequently encounter prejudice at school, work, and at home, forcing many to conceal their sexual identities.
The conservative government party thwarted the efforts of rights groups to establish an equality legislation prior to the Tokyo Olympics last summer, when the world's attention was focused on Japan.
Monday, an Osaka court ruled that the term "freedom of marriage" in the 1947 constitution solely refers to male-female unions and does not encompass same-sex unions; consequently, the ban on same-sex partnerships is not unconstitutional.
Fumi Doi, a judge, stated that marriage for heterosexual couples is a system established by society to preserve a relationship between men and women who carry and raise children.
However, the court recommended the legislature to consider means to properly protect same-sex partnerships, including legalization options for same-sex marriage.
The verdict on Monday was a setback for protestors who had hoped to exert additional pressure on the government following the March 2021 ruling by the Sapporo district court.
Plaintiffs and their attorneys deemed Monday's ruling unacceptable and announced their intention to appeal.
Akiyoshi Tanaka, a plaintiff, stated at a news conference that they filed a lawsuit to get judicial approval for parliament to act, but "the court refrained from rendering a judgement."