455 members of the LGBT community in Japan, including 142 same-sex couples, have filed an unprecedented petition to the government requesting the recognition of same-sex marriage across the country.
In the petition they argue that denying them marriage is against their human rights. It has now been submitted to the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA), argues that Japan is in violation of human rights and therefore its constitution by not permitting same-sex marriages, The Japan Times reported.
At a press conference one of the petitioners, a woman from Tokyo who is in her 40s, said:
I spent more than half of my life being unable to tell anything about my partner even to my parents and friends. I could only hope the children of current and future generations don’t have to live the kind of life I did and can be celebrated regardless of whether they like people of the opposite sex or not.”
Although gay marriage is not illegal in Japan, there is no framework in place to allow same-sex couples to wed, making it impossible under the current law.
The petition says that the Japanese government is denying LGBT people the principle of equality and individual dignity protected by their constitution.
The JFBA will now investigate the allegation and issue a warning to the government if a constitutional breach of rights is found.
The warning would not be legally binding but would have a “far reaching” impact on LGBT legislation in Japan, according Toshimasa Yamashita, a lawyer representing the JFBA. A warning would likely be referenced in all future trials relating to same-sex marriage, Mr Yamashita said.
The JFBA, which represents social justice cases, said this is the country’s first attempt to legalise same-sex marriages by appealing through human rights law.
Currently Shibuya, a ward of Tokyo, is the only part of Japan, which recognises same-sex partnerships. The district became the first to do so in March when the local assembly voted in favour of the change, granting same-sex couples to right to rent apartments together and have hospital visitations as family members.
The capital celebrated its LGBT community with the Tokyo Rainbow Pride march on 26 April, which over 12,000 people attended.
Members of the Japanese LGBT community submitted the bid following the landmark ruling by the US Supreme Court on 26 June which declared that the right to same-sex marriage is guaranteed by the American constitution, and Ireland becoming the first ever country to vote for marriage equality on 22 May.
The petition argues that LGBT people are suffering “a wide variety of disadvantages” and are not being given their constitutional “right to pursue happiness”.
Without the right to marry, same-sex couples are unable to make their partners as inheritance beneficiaries in the event that they die without a will or share health insurance benefits granted to married couples. And if one of the couple is not Japanese, they are not eligible to hold a spouse visa.