A district court in Osaka has ruled that Japan’s ban on same-sex marriages does not violate the constitution.

The BBC reports that the ruling has dealt a blow to gay couples and rights activists, after another district court in Sapporo ruled in 2021 that the failure to recognise same-sex marriage was ‘unconstitutional’.

The Osaka case was filed by three same-sex couples, two of them male and one female. The case is only the second of its kind to be heard in the country, where conservative attitudes towards homosexuality remain.

Japan’s constitution defines marriage as one between ‘both sexes’.

The Osaka court noted, however, that there had not been enough public debate about same-sex marriage and that ‘it may be possible to create a new system’ recognising the interests of same-sex couples.

The ruling said: ‘From the perspective of individual dignity, it can be said that it is necessary to realise the benefits of same-sex couples being publicly recognised through official recognition.

‘Public debate on what kind of system is appropriate for this has not been thoroughly carried out.’

Japan is the only country in the G7 group of developed nations that doesn’t allow people of the same gender to marry, according to the BBC.

Opinion polls show a majority of the public is in favour of allowing same-sex marriage in Japan.

[Image: Kenji-Baptiste OIKAWA, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2833177]