A group of same-sex couples are planning to sue the Japanese government for rejecting their marriage applications, in a first for the country.
Lesbian couple Ai Nakajima and Kristina Baumann (pictured) are one of ten same-sex couples who are expected to file a joint lawsuit next month against the central government to challenge its current law prohibiting them from getting married.
Ai Nakajima of Yokohama wed her partner German Kristina Baumann in Berlin two years ago, but after presenting their German marriage certificate to be listed on the Japanese ancestral register, their application was met with a resounding ‘no’.
Nakajima said told Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shimbun that while the current reality was difficult, she and her wife plan to challenge how her native country sees same sex couples.
“We are facing a reality where a same-sex couple cannot get married in Japan,” she said.
“We would like to challenge the current situation with the lawsuit, which will also be helpful for a number of people from sexual minorities,” Nakajima said.
Currently, Baumann is in the country on a student visa.
She worries that if she is unable to secure employment in Japan after graduating from vocational school, she will have no choice but to leave the country.
“If I cannot find a job after graduating from the vocational school, I will have to return to Germany,” Baumann said.
A Designated Activities visa is given to foreign same-sex couples entering Japan but this does not apply to Nakajima and Baumann as one partner is a Japanese national – a differentiation which Baumann finds unacceptable.
“A specified visa provides for more stability than a student visa. But it will not be issued for an international union of a Japanese and foreigner,” she said.
“This is unfair and discriminatory.”
Earlier this month in Hong Kong, that country’s top court said two legal challenges of the country’s ban on same-sex marriage could proceed, in a first for the country.
Two gay Hong Kong men, an 31-year-old activist and a 21-year-old student, are separately arguing that the ban on same-sex marriage violates their right to equality under the Basic Law, the city’s mini-Constitution.
Taiwan was widely expected to become the first in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage after a landmark court ruling in 2017.
But the reform’s progress was delayed in November after the country voted in a referendum to preserve the current definition of marriage as between a man and a woman, leading to uncertainty about how the government will respond to the binding court ruling.
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