13 same-sex couples in Japan are suing for marriage equality
13 same-sex couples are suing the government on Valentine’s day in 2019 for equal marriage rights in Japan.
— MARRIAGE FOR ALL JAPAN -結婚の自由をすべての人に- (@marriage4all_) 2019年2月14日
Same sex marriages are currently not recognized in Japan; these 13 couples have made the first step to change that by suing the government for equal marriage rights.
According to lawyers in the lawsuit, it will take several years until the Supreme Court rulings come out.
During this time, not only the plaintiffs and LGBTQ people, but everyone in society needs to raise awareness.
The vast majority of younger Japanese support same-sex marriage but the many elderly politicians in Japan tend to resist change.
As an LGBTQ Japanese, I want people around the world to know about this historical affair, so I am writing this blog.
Why Japan needs marriage equality
I myself have been told as a member of the LGBTQ community, “Why do you need to get married? Can’t you just live together?”
If we were a heterosexual couple, I am sure I would not have received such comments.
In the current situation, there is unreasonable inequality. I will give specific examples.
①Refused visits at the hospital
If my partner becomes unconscious due to illness or accident in Japan, I cannot sign the documents.
Because we are not legally recognized as families, we may be refused visitation, no matter how long we’ve been together.
Some areas in Japan have a Partnership law; however these are very limited and have no legally binding force.
According to a survey targeting landlord and property owners, half had a negative response to the idea of renting to LGBTQ people.
Especially in the case of male couples, 47% of the property owners found that their sexuality became a factor of refusal of residence.
③Foreign partner spouse Visa is not available
In the case of same-sex couples where one partner is Japanese and the other is not, they cannot live together in Japan because a spouse visa is only available for heterosexual couples.
Ai Nakajima and Kristina Baumann, who are the plaintiffs for this lawsuit, are facing this problem and so their future together is uncertain.
My partner is also a foreigner (from Canada), so it is quite the same situation.
As my partner Kim cannot get a spouse visa, it is impossible for us to live together in Japan.
This cannot be called “equality”.
There was a case in 2018 that there was no inheritance after the sudden death of a partner.
They had been living as a same-sex couple for over 40 years, but the following happened.
- The property they built together was not inherited by the surviving partner
- The surviving partner was refused the opportunity to attend the funeral
It doesn’t matter how long a couple has been building a life together; they have no rights.
Some people have lost their house because it was not inherited after the death of the partner.
If any of these cases involved a heterosexual couple, it is natural to be protected by law.
⑤Children’s custody is not allowed
In Japan, there are already some kids who have same-sex parents.
Asami Nishikawa and Haru Ono who are plaintiffs in this lawsuit have kids.
However, because there is no marriage equality in Japan, one of parents cannot have custody of their children.
If the child’s blood-related parent dies, the other parent is not able to continue to raise the children.
They will be separated from the children they have raised since birth.
Also, if a child is sick, hospital visitation rights may be refused.
How can we support Japanese LGBTQ from Overseas
In support of the same-sex marriage lawsuit, we are gathering signatures on the Internet!
It will show strong support if you can sign from all over the world.
You can also support with crowd funding for this lawsuit.
All collected money will be used for legal fees, campaign expenses and promotional expenses in support of the lawsuit.
I would like people who think “I’m not LGBTQ2, so this is not my problem” to instead think “I’m not LGBTQ2, but I support a diverse society!”
Share through SNS
And the easiest thing to do is to share information through your networks.
One like and it shows that society is a little more interested in the same-sex marriage.
One tweet and people who take actions will appear.
One share and we get closer to a society where loved ones can live with peace of mind.
By sharing it widely, the human rights of people who have been declared “non-existant” will be protected.
Hash tag is “#結婚の自由をすべての人に“.
That means “Wedding freedom to everyone”.
A Final Word
I have a partner I love.
But we cannot live together in Japan.
Even if one of us is in a life-threatening situation, the other cannot stay by her side.
And I will not have a custody of my kids.
There is one way to solve this.
We are fully supporting this lawsuit to get marriage equality because if we lived in Japan, we may have had to become a plaintiffs.
In any case, I hope the word “same sex marriage” will disappear.
I do not want to explain that “I got a same-sex marriage”, I will be able to say in Japan as I say in Canada, “I got married!”