On February 14th, thirteen same-sex couples, residing in Japan, filed lawsuits of one million yen each against the government, accusing them of unfair treatment of those in homosexual relationships, branding the discrimination of same-sex marriages as unconstitutional.
A Japan Times article details just how much the plaintiffs had to suffer merely due to their sexual orientations; a non-defining factor that has jumped through many a hurdle, in order to gain the respect it so rightly deserves.
I can’t imagine having to forgo a life-saving surgery because a hospital does not consider my partner’s signature on the consent form to be valid. This is what Haru Ono went through three years prior and it became a motivating force that led her and her same-sex partner, to join twelve other couples in bringing this pressing issue to the forefront. (see article)
Japan law does not explicitly prohibit the marriage or civil union of same-sex couples. However, the government appears to have misconstrued what’s written into the constitution which demands the consent of ‘both sexes’ in order for a marriage to be authenticated.
Moreover, several registration offices and courthouses have rejected marriage license applications and appeals due to the backlash they may face from said government.
It’s at times like this, I am reminded of the privilege I hold as a straight woman who won’t have these concerns when the time comes for me to tie the knot. Having lived in western countries all my life and surrounding myself with liberal, like-minded individuals, the terms ‘gay’, ‘lesbian’, ‘bi’ or ‘queer’ were all readily accepted and rarely questioned. Though if queries arose, they stemmed from a place of curiosity and an eagerness to self-educate— rather than malice and a fear of the unfamiliar.
Nevertheless, my being a racial minority, puts things into perspective. If someone told me that I wasn’t permitted to get married, simply because my partner came from a different ethnic background, you’d better believe I’m going to fight that belief system.
After all, race and sexuality are both aspects of an individual that are supposed to be respected and embraced—not scorned and rejected.
By Lavanya Nair