Why Same-Sex Couples Are Suing The Japanese Government On Valentines Day

A group of 13 same-sex couples in Japan will file cases against the Japanese government on Valentine's Day to seek legal recognition of their right to get married.

The couples will approach the courts in the cities of Tokyo, Osaka, Sapporo and Nagoya on February 14, alleging that the government was denying them constitutional right to wed.

"We are not asking for anything special, nothing more than what other couples enjoy," plaintiff Kristina Baumann told Spanish news agency EFE.

Braumann, who is from Germany, and her Japanese partner Ai Nakajima have joined 12 other couples to file the cases.

In December last year, Baumann and Nakajima unsuccessfully sought to register their marriage in Yokohama, the place where they currently live, after having tied the knot in Germany.

The two women met in 2011 in the European country, where they lived together as partners from 2016, before wedding in September 2018.

Same-Sex Marriage Japan
The couples alleged they are being denied their right to marry. Image: AAP.

They moved to Japan, a country that has legalised gay sex but doesn't allow same-sex marriages.

Lawyers co-ordinating the cases are inspired by the landmark Obergefell vs Hodges case in the United States that resulted in the legalisation of same-sex marriages in 2015.

Since Japanese law does not recognise unions between people of the same sex, the two women cannot claim any of the legal benefits of being married, among them a spouse visa for Baumann.

A study by advertising firm Dentsu in January revealed that 78 per cent of Japanese people between 20 and 60 years were supportive of same-sex unions, underlining a growing interest in Japanese society about the legal situation of LGBT people.

In the survey, published by Asahi newspaper, 8.9 per cent of the 60,000 people questioned identified themselves as a part of the sexual minority.