A court in Japan has awarded damages to a woman who ended her relationship with a female partner after claiming infidelity, even as Japan does not legally recognize same-sex unions.
According to the Japanese newspaper The Mainichi, the girlfriend — whose name hasn’t been disclosed — had an affair with the person whom the couple had selected as a sperm donor for their baby.
The donor later came out as a transgender woman and underwent gender reassignment surgery.
According to court documents, the women moved in together in 2012. Two years later they got married in the United States, and in 2015 they held a wedding celebration in Japan.
Shortly thereafter the defendant expressed desire to have a baby, and the women found a sperm donor on a social networking site who would inseminate her.
But their situation got complicated after the defendant had an affair with the donor.
Following the revelations of infidelity, the couple broke off their relationship and went their separate ways. Later, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit, seeking 6.3 million yen ($58,000) in damages.
She claims that she paid for the defendant’s artificial insemination, and that she also bought a house for the couple to raise their child.
The Utsunomiya District Court in Tochigi Prefecture, a district located some 65 miles north of Tokyo, agreed. In the groundbreaking ruling, it recognized the former couple as if they had been legally together.
The defendant was ordered to pay 1.1 million yen ($10,200) to the plaintiff, who argued in court that their relationship should’ve been legally valid as a common-law marriage.
Since the two had been partners for a long time, and because they’d had a wedding ceremony, she argued that they should have the same rights as opposite-sex couples in the same situation.
Acceptance of same-sex marriages is slowing getting track in the Asian nation.
In 2017, the city of Osaka officially recognized a same-sex couple as foster parents — the country’s first.
In January, a survey showed that 78.9% of Japanese people approves same-sex marriages; a fact corroborated by Taiga Ishikawa, Japan’s first openly gay lawmaker, who was elected on July 21.
Ishikawa said that he is “sure” that same-sex unions will be legalized“within six years of my term,” as he told Reuters, and he credits Japan’s social progress to an increasing acceptance worldwide towards same-sex couples.
“It has been incredibly empowering to the Japanese LGBT community to see the growing acceptance overseas of same-sex marriage,” he added.