Japan’s prime minister say same-sex marriage ban is not discrimination

Fumio Kishida during a visit to the US.

Japan’s prime minister Fumio Kishida has insisted that the country’s same-sex marriage ban is not discriminatory to the country’s LGBTQ+ community.

Kishida sparked outrage on Tuesday (28 February) after claiming that “disallowing same-sex couples to marry” is not “unjust discrimination by the state”.

Amid backlash from various LGBTQ+ groups, he doubled down on Wednesday (1 March), saying that viewing marriage as an institution between heterosexual couples “is not unconstitutional”.

And he denied accusations of prejudice. “I do not have a sense of discrimination [on the issue] and I have never stated I’m against it,” he stated.

His comments came amid growing public calls to allow Japanese LGBTQ+ couples the right to marry.

Currently, same-sex couples are only able to engage in civil unions – and even then, only in certain areas, such as Tokyo.

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While civil unions afford certain rights, couples cannot inherit assets, adopt, or even see their partner in a hospital if they are involved in a medical emergency.

While several LGBTQ+ couples in Japan have filed petitions to class the ban as unconstitutional, all of them have been rejected by the high courts.

Fumio Kishida in the UK.
Fumio Kishida’s approval ratings have halved since last year. (Getty)

Kishida has previously said that same-sex marriage “could change people’s views on family, sense of values and society”

Some were optimistic after he met with LGBTQ+ groups in February. The meeting was organised after the prime minister was forced to fire one of his senior aides in January over anti-LGBTQ+ comments.

An economy and trade official, Masayoshi Arai was sacked after saying that he wouldn’t want to live next door to an LGBTQ+ couple and that he would “hate even to see them”. He also claimed people would flee the country if same-sex marriages were permitted.

Kishida said the comments were outrageous and completely incompatible with the administration’s policies. Arai later apologised.

But the growing animosity towards the PM’s refusal to act on same-sex marriage has contributed to his fall in popularity. Polls show that his approval ratings have halved to about 30 per cent since last year.

Openly gay politician, Taiga Ishikawa, said the situation regarding Arai’s dismissal was “beyond one’s patience,” while claiming all of Kishida’s aides were similarly anti-LGBTQ+.

Since the controversy, Kishida has appointed an aide on LGBTQ+ issues, while instructing his party to prepare legislation on queer rights.

According to a global survey by Ipsos, at least 69 per cent of the population in Japan support legal recognition of same-sex marriage, while just six per cent oppose it.

Additionally, 68 per cent believe same-sex couples should have the right to adopt, while 20 per cent do not agree with the proposal.