TOKYO——Thirteen same-sex couples demanding marriage equality filed lawsuits against the government at district courts across Japan on Valentine's Day on Thursday arguing that its refusal to allow them to marry is unconstitutional and discriminatory.


Each of the 26 plaintiffs is seeking 1 million yen in compensation claiming that the government's failure to recognize same-sex marriage has caused them emotional distress in what their lawyers say is the country's first lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of such negligence.


The damages suits were jointly filed by the couples who are in their 20s through their 50s and include Japanese and foreign partners at the district courts in Tokyo Nagoya Osaka and Sapporo.


"We are starting a long fight to pursue marriage equality through the courts. We would like to fight with all the sexual minorities in the country and their allies" said Kenji Aiba a 40-year-old plaintiff in front of the Tokyo District Court.

在东京地方法院前,40岁的原告相场谦治(Kenji Aiba)如是说,“我们正通过法庭开始一场追求婚姻平等的长久斗争。我们愿同本国所有的性少数群体和其盟友们一道战斗?!?br />
The 13 couples hope their complaint will lead to a change so that same-sex couples will be recognized by Japanese society and as their brief says "Have their difficulties resolved and their dignity restored."

这13对夫妇希望他们的这项起诉会推动一项变革,使得同性恋伴侣得到日本社会的认同,并且如其辩护律师所说,“使他们面临的困难能得以解决,重获尊严?!?br />
The argument over marriage equality revolves around Article 24 of the Constitution which stipulates "Marriage shall be based only on the mutual consent of both sexes and it shall be maintained through mutual cooperation with the equal rights of husband and wife as a basis."

关于婚姻平等的争论围绕日本宪法第24条展开,该条规定,“婚姻应当仅在两性达成共识的基础上成立,依靠相互合作来维系,以丈夫和妻子享有平等的权利为基础?!?br />
The plaintiffs' lawyers argue that the article's intent was to preserve gender equality and individual respect and it does not preclude marriage between same sexes.


"Article 24 ensures that legal marriage only depends on the agreed-upon wish by individuals without intervention from the government or other third parties" their brief reads.

原告们的诉状上如是写道,“第24条确保合法的婚姻只建立在两个个体意愿一致之上,不受政府或其他第三方的干扰?!?br />

Without marriage equality same-sex couples cannot inherit property without a will benefit from income tax deductions for spouses or have co-parental rights over their children.


For international couples non-recognition adds another layer of complexity. Residency for foreign partners cannot be assured without a spousal visa says Kristina Baumann a 32-year-old German plaintiff who has been with Ai Nakajima 40 since 2011 and is in Japan on a student visa. They have already tied the knot in Germany.

对于跨国伴侣来说,不被承认另添一层复杂性。32岁的德国原告克里斯蒂娜·鲍曼(Kristina Baumann)表示,如果没有配偶签证,外国伴侣的居留权将无法得到保证。自2011年以来就与现40岁的中岛爱(Ai Nakajima)结为伴侣,她一直靠的学生签证待在日本。她们已经在德国结了婚。

"Our daily life is always surrounded by fear that something could happen" Baumann told Kyodo News after the couple had filed the lawsuit.

在这对伴侣提起诉讼后,鲍曼对日本共同通讯社如是说道,“我们的日常生活总是被一种坏事可能会发生的恐惧所包围?!?br />
Same-sex marriage was first legalized in the Netherlands in 2001. It is currently recognized in more than two dozen nations and areas mostly in Europe the latest being Austria in January.


In Asia Taiwan is expected to become first in the region to recognize it in May.


"I really think this is an important step to go forward for Japanese society" said Baumann. "When it goes through Japan other countries may take steps forward."

鲍曼表示,“我真的认为这是向日本社会前进的重要一步,当它在日本通过时,其他国家可能会采取措施推进?!?br />
"This is another milestone for Japanese history and also for LGBTQ in the world" added her partner Nakajima. She is ready to take the fight up to the Supreme Court. "Somebody has to take action" she said.

“这是日本历史和世界LGBTQ(性少数群体进程)的另一个里程碑,”其伴侣中岛爱补充道,她已做好在最高法院将战斗进行到底的准备,并表示“总得有人来采取行动?!?br />
In Japan at least one in 11 people identify as lesbian gay bisexual or transgender according to a survey conducted last October by advertising giant Dentsu Inc. covering 60000 people aged between 20 and 59 nationwide.

根据日本广告巨头电通集团(Dentsu Inc.)去年10月进行的一项覆盖全国6万名年龄在20岁至59岁人口调查的结果显示,在日本,11个人中至少有1人是女同性恋、男同性恋、双性恋或跨性别者。

Discriminatory comments are still being made in the country against the LGBT community. Last year a lawmaker from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party Mio Sugita faced criticism for saying in a magazine article that the government should not support sexual-minority couples because they cannot bear offspring and thus are not "productive."

该国对性少数群体的歧视性言论仍存在。去年,执政的自由民主党议员杉田美绪(Mio Sugita)在一篇杂志文章中称,政府不应该支持性少数伴侣,因为他们无法繁衍后代,因此不具“生产力”。