Photo/Illutration Lawyers representing the plaintiffs and their supporters celebrate the court's decision on same-sex marriages in front of the Nagoya District Court on May 30, holding up a banner that proclaims the court ruled the government's refusal to recognize them as unconstitutional. (Tadashi Mizowaki)

NAGOYA--A district court here ruled on May 30 that the government’s refusal to recognize same sex-marriage is unconstitutional.

Presiding Judge Osamu Nishimura of the Nagoya District Court said the denial violates both Article 14 and paragraph 2 of Article 24 of the Constitution.

This is the second time that a court made such a ruling on Article 14, which stipulates equality under the law.

It is the first time that a court ruled the denial violates Article 24, which guarantees the freedom of marriage.

But the court denied the plaintiffs' compensation claim.

According to the complaint, the plaintiffs argued that denying the rights and benefits that heterosexual couples enjoy through marriage, such as inheritance and tax deductions for spouses, constitutes discrimination and violates Article 14 of the Constitution.

They also claimed that the refusal to recognize same-sex marriage contradicts Article 24.

In addition, the plaintiffs cited domestic and international developments related to same-sex marriage.

They said that there have been repeated recommendations from the United Nations calling for the protection of same-sex couples' rights since 2008.

They added that more local governments have introduced a partnership system since 2015 that is legally nonbinding but certifying the relationship of same-sex couples.

Based on these developments, the plaintiffs pointed out that the legislative body had recognized the need for legalizing same-sex marriage before they filed the lawsuit in 2019.

They said that the central government failed to take legal measures to deal with the problem and is liable for compensation.

Similar lawsuits have been filed in five district courts across the country. This was the fourth ruling among them, but the second to rule that denying same-sex marriages is unconstitutional.

The Sapporo District Court in March 2021 ruled that the denial is unconstitutional and the Tokyo District Court in November 2022 ruled that the lack of a legal system that recognizes same-sex couples as a family is in a "state of unconstitutionality." 

In June 2022, the Osaka District Court ruled it as constitutional.

In all the lawsuits, the courts denied the compensation claims.

The Fukuoka District Court is scheduled to make a ruling on the case on June 8.