Two women hold hands during the Tokyo Rainbow Pride parade.

Japan: ‘Discriminatory’ ruling on same-sex marriage a crushing blow to equality

In response to today’s court ruling in Japan that upheld the government ban on same-sex marriage, Amnesty International’s East Asia Researcher Boram Jang said:

“The court’s endorsement of the Japanese government’s discriminatory ban on same-sex marriage is a deeply damaging setback to equal rights in the country.

“This ruling highlights the prejudice faced by LGBTI people in Japan, and the government’s failure to address it.

Last year’s ruling by the Sapporo District Court, which held that Japan’s marriage ban was unconstitutional, offered hope of progress on this issue, but today’s verdict is a crushing blow to same-sex couples who will feel they are back to  square one.

“We urge the Japanese government to undertake a thorough review of all laws, policies and practices that discriminate against same-sex couples in all walks of life. Japan’s repressive ban on same-sex marriage must be consigned to history.”


Osaka District Court today rejected the claims of three same-sex couples – two male, one female – who argued that Japan’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

It is only the second such case to be heard on this issue in Japan after the Sapporo District Court ruled in favour of three same-sex couples in a similar case last year.

That ruling, on 17 March 2021, said the Japanese government violated Article 14 of the Japanese constitution that ensures the right to equality. However, the court today ruled that Article 14 had not been violated. 

Despite long-running efforts by campaigners, Japan has failed to introduce national legislation to eliminate discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, expression and sex characteristics. 

Amnesty International continues to call on the Japanese government to prioritize LGBTI rights and introduce national legislation that is comprehensive, and specifically prohibits discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity, expression and sex characteristics.