On Valentine’s Day, the first lawsuit was filed by thirteen gay couples who challenged Japan’s decision on rejecting same-sex marriage which entails that the country is denying their constitutional right to equality.
Other advanced nations have already legalized same-sex union, but countries like Japan turned its back on the LGBTQ people who’ve continued to fight together with sexual minorities for gender equality and marital recognition. Among those who combat gender prejudices are six couples holding banners saying “Marriage For All Japan,” who marched into Tokyo District Court to file their cases against the government.
Similar cases are filed by three couples in Osaka, one in Nagoya and three in Saporro. Kenji Aiba and Ken Kozumi, have been together for five years, but decided that same-sex couples in Japan should fight for its constitutional rights just like what happened to countries like India, U.S, and Canada.
However ten Japanese municipalities have decreed “partnership” ordinances for same-sex couples so they can rent apartments together, among other things, but the implementation is not complete.
This shows that Japanese laws only recognized marriage between a man and a woman. The ordeal is very demeaning and many gay people hide their sexuality, fearing bullies at home and school or even work.
Transgender people, however, faced
The LGBTQ equal rights movement has been silent for a long time because people who are not conforming to the conventional notions of sexuality have been so marginalized that the issue hasn’t been considered a human rights issue, according to the experts.
For Mizuho Fukushima, a lawmaker and a specialist on Gender and Human Rights issues, many Japanese do not think that their neighbors, relatives, and friends may be sexual minorities. And, the idea to follow a conservative type of family setting, which heterosexual couples should marry and have children, is too strong.
The government which is supposed to be the forefront of the LGBTQ’s struggle has also become their oppressor. Recently, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his conservative supporters have campaigned to restore a patriarchal society based on heterosexual marriages. He even revived a good education class to reiterate family values and ethical conduct to children.
Yet, the ruling of the Liberal Democratic Party has annotations which deemed discriminating to LGBTQ people. One example is from party veteran, Katsuei Hirasawa, who’ve said that the nation would collapse if everyone becomes a member of LGBTQ.
However, a slight ray of hope shines upon the LGBTQ community when a survey from the advertising agency Dentsu in October 2018 showed a positive response from the public. It interpreted that more than 70 percent of the 6,299 respondents aged 20-59 said they support legalizing same-sex marriage.
The result calls for changes in companies and universities. Some companies now have adopted policies to offer benefits for their same-sex partners’ employees. A few women’s universities will start accepting transgender applicants, and other schools are allowing both girls and boys to choose either skirts or trousers.
The most recent noticeable change is the installation of genderless public toilets all over Japan.
The primary goal of the lawsuit filed on Thursday is to win marital rights and equality for same-sex couples. Transgender people are also demanding for a change; this includes eliminating the need for anyone to be sterilized first, so they can get married.
Pressures for change are now intensifying in Japan. Last August, the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan and its counterparts from Canada, Britain, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand urged for legalizing same-sex marriages, pointing out that Japan is missing its most significant assets because it oppressed the LGBTQ people.
For these 13 gay couples, they will represent those who are afraid of coming out due to discrimination. They believe that a fight is necessary for a country which does not recognize other sexualities, and filing a lawsuit is the first step towards this big fight.