In a landmark ruling, Japan’s Sapporo District Court on Wednesday said that not allowing same-sex couples to marry is “unconstitutional.”
This is the first ever ruling in Japan regarding the legality of same-sex marriage, Reuters reports. The country’s constitution defines marriage as being based on “the mutual consent of both sexes,” and while municipalities can issue partnership certificates that make it easier for gay couples to rent and visit each other in the hospital, they cannot inherit assets or share parental rights.
The case was brought before the court by six plaintiffs, who each sought 1 million yen from the Japanese government for pain and suffering due to not being able to get legally married, Reuters reports; the court denied their request for damages. There are four similar cases now being heard in other Japanese courts, and lawyers and activists hope Wednesday’s ruling will influence those decisions.