Japan: Gay couples suing state detail hardships, loss of dignity

Although the room was packed with media representatives and supporters, Ikuo Sato felt alone.

His long-time partner decided against attending the news conference in Tokyo to avoid revealing his sexual orientation, which he has kept from his family and workplace.

“Today, I am here alone,” Sato, 59, said. “This circumstance reflects the reality of our society.”

The news conference was one of four held around Japan after 13 same-sex couples filed lawsuits against the central government at district courts in Sapporo, Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka on Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day.

In the first legal action of its kind, the plaintiffs argue that the government’s refusal to legalize same-sex marriages violates Article 24 of the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of marriage based on consent between two partners.

The 18 plaintiffs at the news conferences, some of whom detailed their long suffering at the hands of bullies, explained that their lawsuits were not only about fair treatment but also about regaining their dignity as human beings.

At the beginning of the news conference in Tokyo, Sato read a message from his partner.

“I wish I could have been next to my partner as I always am,” the message said. “After winning this lawsuit, I want to end the fight with a smile and show my face.” Read more via Asahi