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重點撮要 | 日本同性婚姻平權之路: 札幌案、大阪案與東京案的憲法爭議



Five Key Takeaways of【Road to Same-Sex Marriage Equality in Japan: The Constitutional Controversy in the Sapporo, Osaka and Tokyo Cases】English version

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【日本同性婚姻平權之路: 札幌案、大阪案與東京案的憲法爭議】的重點撮要


近年,日本有數十位同性伴侶提起了挑戰禁止同性婚姻合憲性的策略性訴訟。香港大學法律學院平等權項目所舉辦的網絡研討會,邀請到了部分訴訟的代理律師加藤丈晴和寺原真希子。她們在研討會中剖析了札幌、大阪與東京地方裁判所分別於2021年3月、2022年6月和11月作出的三項判決;香港大學法律學院副教授Kelley Loper作為與談人,與兩位嘉賓進行交流。


裁判所在三案中需要考慮《日本國憲法》中的以下條款:


· 第14(1)條:全體國民在法律面前一律平等。在政治、經濟以及社會的關係中,都不得以人種、信仰、性別、社會身份以及門第的不同而有所差別。


· 第24(1)條:婚姻僅以兩性的自願結合為基礎而成立,以夫婦平權為根本,必須在相互協力之下予以維持。


· 第24(2)條:關於選擇配偶、財產權、繼承、選擇居所、離婚以及婚姻和家族庭等其他有關事項的法律,必須以個人尊嚴與兩性平等為基礎制訂之。


簡而言之,三項裁決均認為,國會(日本的立法機構)不承認同性婚姻的做法並沒有違憲。然而,札幌裁判所認為,在法律上沒有賦予同性婚姻效力違反了《憲法》第14(1)條,但大阪在這一點則不同意。這兩個截然不同的裁決頒佈後,東京的裁決可以被視為札幌、大阪裁決的概括;而東京裁判所在判決書中亦有支持同性婚姻的數項重要聲明。


以下是本研討會的五項重點撮要


一、各裁判所就婚姻制度之目的的認識存在分歧。

對札幌裁判所而言,無論兩人是否育有孩子,婚姻是一個「保護伴侶本身的共同生活」的制度;而大阪裁判所的觀點顯然較保守:婚姻制度是為一男一女共同生活並繁衍後代的關係提供法律保護。原告律師認為大阪的論點「荒謬」,因為有許多異性伴侶不能或選擇不生育。在這一點上,東京的判決更傾向於札幌的立場;它指出男人和女人生育和撫養孩子的事實,純粹是社會公認「婚姻是異性之間」的概念的一個背景,但它並不是婚姻制度直接和唯一的目的。


二、目前《憲法》的婚姻權只針對異性伴侶,但東京的裁決不排除在未來對「婚姻」有新的詮釋。

東京裁判所認為,《憲法》第24(1)條使用了「兩性」和「夫婦」的字眼,顯然只針對異性婚姻;這與札幌和大阪的裁決相似。然而,東京更進一步表示,圍繞婚姻和家庭的社會價值觀是「可變的」。雖然他們不能斷定目前在日本有承認同性婚姻的社會共識,但他們沒有排除未來有這種可能性。


三、「個人尊嚴」是東京裁判所的重點考量。

《憲法》第24(2)條明確提到了「個人尊嚴」。它不僅僅是一個抽象概念,而是在實踐中要遵循的價值觀;所以,在制定與婚姻和家庭有關的法律時,「個人尊嚴」實際限制了國會的自由裁量權。「尊嚴」是三份判決書中反覆出現的主題,但它在東京裁決中尤為重要:裁判所表示沒有承認同性婚姻的法律制度違反了《憲法》第24(2)條,因為由法律來正式承認同性伴侶為家庭成員是「重要的個人利益」。缺乏這種承認將會助長更多偏見和歧視,對同性伴侶的「個人生存」是「嚴重的威脅和障礙」。


寺原律師認為東京裁判所得出如此結論,可能是因為裁判所對原告們進行了訪談,以了解他們的情況。例如,裁判所訪問了育有孩子的女同性伴侶後,認為她們的家庭生活與異性伴侶沒有甚麽不同。有原告亦分享了他們在生活上所面對的不利條件和遭遇羞辱的經驗,例如,因為他們在法律上不是其伴侶的「家庭成員」,所以無法得知對方的醫療狀況。


四、 雖然法院沒有直接提出不承認同性婚姻應採取的補救措施,但這些判決在推動立法行動方面具有甚大影響力。

大阪裁判所明確表示同性婚姻的問題應該通過立法機構的民主程序來解決,但札幌裁判所意識到法院是少數群體的保護者,這令加藤律師倍受鼓舞。他認為札幌的裁決,加上媒體對本案的廣泛報道,對遊說國會成員有積極的效果。例如,案件促使了公明黨成立同性婚姻的工作小組;而札幌案後的民調顯示,同性婚姻得到更多的民眾支持;在60-69歲的族群中更是首次有過半數贊成同性婚姻,意味著社會轉變已經觸及老一代和保守政黨的支持者。


兩位律師代表的倡議團體「日本全民婚姻(Marriage for All Japan)」意識到法院和立法機構之間的相互作用,並據此制定了他們的倡導戰略。雖然法院沒有很多直接的補救措施,但這些判決在遊說工作當中是非常有力的工具。


五、原告不接受「隔離但平等」的替代方案。

日本有民事伴侶制度,但這種關係在法律和社會上的認可程度遠遠低於合法婚姻。大阪的判決表示,伴侶制度加上合同和遺囑足以消除或在很大程度上減輕同性伴侶在繼承和稅收等問題上的不利處境。札幌的立場則比較令人滿意:它承認「關係地位的建立和公證」是婚姻的本質,這種意義不能被合同或遺囑取代。


在這一點上,「日本全民婚姻」堅決反對以循序漸進的方式來實現婚姻平權。正如寺原律師指出,在個人尊嚴的基礎上,政府必須給予同性伴侶與異性伴侶相同的法律地位。建立一個「隔離但平等」的新制度只是另一種形式的歧視。


請點擊瞭解詳情觀看視頻回放及講者PowerPoint



Five Key Takeaways of【Road to Same-Sex Marriage Equality in Japan: The Constitutional Controversy in the Sapporo, Osaka and Tokyo Cases】


Our speakers, Mr. Takeharu Kato and Ms. Makiko Terahara, are both attorneys-at-law behind a series of strategic lawsuits challenging the constitutionality for banning same-sex marriage in Japan. In this webinar, they dissected three of the judgments handed down by the Sapporo District Court in March 2021, Osaka District Court in June 2022 and Tokyo District Court in November 2022, with HKU Faculty of Law’s Associate Professor Kelley Loper commenting thereafter as a discussant.


The Courts are asked to consider the following provisions in the Japanese Constitution:


· Article 14(1): All of the people are equal under the law and there shall be no discrimination in political, economic or social relations because of race, creed, sex, social status or family origin.


· Article 24(1): 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.


· Article 24(2): With regard to choice of spouse, property rights, inheritance, choice of domicile, divorce and other matters pertaining to marriage and the family, laws shall be enacted from the standpoint of individual dignity and the essential equality of the sexes.


In short, all three rulings found that the National Diet (Japan’s legislature) is not at fault for not recognising same-sex marriage. However, Sapporo ruled that the absence of a law that give effect to same-sex marriage violates Article 14(1) and is therefore unconstitutional, while Osaka disagreed on this point. Following these two conflicting decisions, the Tokyo ruling can be viewed as an encapsulation of both, with the Court making several crucial statements in favour of same-sex marriage.


Here are five key takeaways from this webinar:


1. The Courts disagreed on the purpose of the institution of marriage.


The Sapporo Court conceptualises marriage as an institution to “protect the joint life of the couple itself”, regardless of whether or not they have children; whereas Osaka took a much more traditionalist view – the institution of marriage provides legal protection for relationships where a man and a woman live together and produce offspring. Osaka’s contention is criticized by the plaintiffs’ attorneys as “absurd” since there are many heterosexual couples who cannot, or chose not to, have children. On this, Tokyo leaned more towards Sapporo’s stance, noting the fact that men and women have borne and raised children is merely a background to the socially accepted notion that marriage is between opposite sexes, but not directly and solely a purpose of marriage.


2. The constitutional right to marriage as it currently stands is intended for heterosexual couples only, but the Tokyo ruling is open to changes in the interpretation of “marriage” in the future.


Similar to the Sapporo and Osaka rulings, the Tokyo District Court said that Article 24(1) is clearly intended for opposite sex marriages only, given the use of the words “both sexes” and “husband and wife”. However, Tokyo went one step further to denote that social values surrounding marriage and family are “subject to change”. Although they cannot conclude that there is currently a social consensus to recognise same-sex marriage in Japan, they did not preclude such possibility in the future.


3. “Individual dignity” played a huge role in Tokyo’s ruling.


Article 24(2) makes an unequivocal reference to “individual dignity”. It is understood as not merely an abstract concept but a value to be followed in practice, thereby actually limiting the discretion of the Diet when it comes to enacting laws pertaining to marriage and the family. “Dignity” is a recurring theme in all three judgments, but it is of particular significance in Tokyo’s ruling: it reasoned that the absence of a legal system for same-sex marriages is in violation of Article 24(2), because same-sex couples being recognised formally by the law as family members is “an important personal interest”, and without such recognition, it would be a “serious threat and obstacle” to their “personal survival” as it contributes to more prejudices and discrimination.


Ms. Terahara suggests that the Tokyo District Court’s conclusion may be attributable to the Court having interviewed the plaintiffs to better understand their situation. For example, the Court, having spoken to lesbian couples who are raising children of their own, saw that their familial life is no different from that of a heterosexual couple. Some also shared the disadvantages and humiliations they have faced, such as being denied knowledge of their same-sex partner’s medical condition because they are not technically a “family member”.


4. While courts does not have remedies to directly rectify the lack of recognition for same-sex marriage, these judgments have proved to be influential in pushing for legislative action.


Where Osaka made clear that the issue of same-sex marriage ought to be resolved through a democratic process at the legislature, Mr. Kato was particularly encouraged by how the Sapporo Court is aware of itself as a protector of marginalised minority groups; and believed that their ruling, coupled with the extensive media coverage on this case, has had a positive effect on lobbying Diet members. For example, the Komeito Party had since started a working group on same-sex marriage, and survey results post-Sapporo showed that same-sex marriage has received more support most notably among people in their 60s, meaning that the societal shift reached even the older generation and supporters of conservative parties.


The work of the advocacy group Ms. Terahara and Mr. Kato represents, Marriage for All Japan (MFAJ), recognises the interplay between courts and the legislature and shaped their strategies accordingly. Although Courts do not have many possible remedies at their disposal, these judgments are powerful tools for the MFAJ to utilise in their lobbying effort.


5. “Separate but equal” alternatives are unsatisfactory to the plaintiffs.

Japan has a municipal partnership system, but the level of legal and social recognition of a civil partnership is well below that of a legal marriage. The Osaka judgment suggested that the partnership system, along with contracts and wills, are sufficient to eliminate or mitigate to a considerable extent the disadvantages experienced by these couples in issues such as inheritance and taxation. Sapporo’s stance is much more satisfactory: it acknowledges “the creation and notarisation of a relationship status” as the essence of marriage, and such significance cannot be replaced by contracts or wills.


On this, MFAJ draws a hard line against a gradual, step-by-step approach to achieving marriage equality. As Ms. Terahara noted, on the basis of individual dignity, the government must accord the same legal status to same-sex couples to that of opposite-sex couples. Creating a new “separate but equal” system is merely another form of discrimination.


For more information, please refer to the video recording: https://www.equalityrights.hku.hk/post/lecture-20221213


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