TOKYO (AP) — The Latest on lawsuits challenging Japan’s rejection of same-sex marriage (all times local):
Thirteen couples have filed Japan’s first lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the country’s rejection of same-sex marriage.
Six couples holding banners saying “Marriage For All Japan” walked into Tokyo District Court on Thursday to file their cases on Valentine’s Day. Three couples in Osaka, one couple in Nagoya and three couples in Sapporo also filed cases against the government.
Plaintiff Kenji Aiba, standing next to his partner Ken Kozumi, told reporters that he would “fight this war together with sexual minorities all around Japan.”
The lawsuit argues that the law violates their constitutional right to equality. While Japanese law and many lawmakers lag behind, public acceptance of sexual diversity and same-sex marriage has grown in Japan.
The plaintiffs’ lawyers think the cases could take as long as five years or more to be decided.
Thirteen same-sex couples are filing Japan’s first lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the country’s rejection of same-sex marriage.
The Valentine Day lawsuits to be filed in Tokyo and in other courts around the country on Thursday argue that the law violates same-sex couples’ constitutional rights to equality. They want the government to follow the example of many other nations in guaranteeing marital freedom.
Ten Japanese municipalities have enacted “partnership” ordinances for same-sex couples to make it easier for them to rent apartments together, among other things, but they are not legally binding.
Many LGBT people hide their sexuality, fearing prejudice at home, school or work.
The obstacles are worse for transgender people, who face extra difficulties including a requirement they be sterilized to marry someone of the same birth sex.
Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness Comes Out As Nonbinary
Jonathan Van Ness, the grooming guy from the Netflix makeover show Queer Eye, recently came out as nonbinary, clarifying that “he prefers he/him pronouns, but does not identify as a ‘man.’”
As a child, Van Ness used to put on his mother’s makeup, high heels and scarves while playing in his family’s basement, but he never felt he could wear such things to school where he was bullied for being different.
“I didn’t really put [my dressing] that together with ‘gender nonconforming’ or ‘nonbinary’ or owning that as an identity until recently,” Van Ness said. He continued:
He said the visibility of social media has shown people the options they have for expressing their own gender and added that most of his role models are women including his mother, grandmother and pop divas like Gloria Estefan, Celine Dion, Aretha Franklin, Shania Twain, and Mariah Carey.
What does it mean to be non-binary?
According to the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), non-binary and genderqueer identity are labels that refer to people who “don’t identify with any gender” or whose “gender changes over time.” The word non-binary literally means someone whose gender falls outside of the male-or-female binary.
The NCTE points out that non-binary people have existed in societies throughout world history, not all non-binary people get gender-affirmation surgeries and non-binary isn’t the same thing as being trans or intersex (although some trans and intersex people do identify as non-binary or genderqueer).
The organization also says that allies should be respectful of non-binary and genderqueer people’s chosen names and pronouns, recognizing that they don’t need to “understand what it means for someone to be non-binary to respect them.” Most of all, allies should advocate for policies that allow non-binary people to live, dress and have their gender expression respected at work, at school and public spaces, especially bathrooms.
“There’s no one way to be non-binary,” the NCTE writes. “The best way to understand what it’s like to be non-binary is to talk with non-binary people and listen to their stories.”
(Reporting by Queerty)
Connecticut Lawmakers Move To Ban ‘Gay Panic Defense’
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Criminal defendants in Connecticut would be barred from claiming as their sole legal defense that they panicked after learning about their victim’s sexual orientation.
The state House of Representatives approved legislation Tuesday preventing defendants from using the so-called gay panic defense. That defense blames a violent reaction on discovering a victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.
The legislation already cleared the Senate and now moves to the governor.
Defense attorneys unsuccessfully attempted to use the “gay panic defense” in the case of Matthew Shepard, the college student beaten to death by two men in Wyoming in 1998. The judge would not allow it, and those men were convicted.
Supreme Court Rejects Appeal Over Transgender Bathrooms
On May 28, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal filed by teenagers in Pennsylvania who opposed a school district policy allowing students to use the locker rooms and bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity. As CNN reports, the Supreme Court’s decision to leave a lower court’s ruling in place means that Boyertown School District’s current policy, which allows transgender students to choose which facilities they use, will stay in place.
Reuters reports that the six students opposing the policy argued that allowing their transgender peers to use the bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity would be in violation of Title IX and privacy. The students are represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian organization that is considered a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The SPLC calls the firm “one of the most influential groups informing the administration’s attack on LGBT rights.”
According to CNN, the plaintiffs’ lawyers argued that “forcing a teenager to share a locker room or restroom with a member of the opposite sex can cause embarrassment and distress.” Boyertown School District’s policy allows students to choose which bathrooms they use on a case by case basis; before a student is allowed to use a facility with a label that differs from the gender they were assigned at birth, they are required to meet with a guidance counselor.
Lawyers for the school district say that they have this policy in place because they believe “that transgender students should have the right to use school bathroom and locker facilities on the same basis as non-transgender students.”
The Supreme Court issued their decision without comment, but many people are viewing the court’s rejection of the appeal as the latest positive development in a nationwide legal battle for transgender rights. In a tweet on Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union announced that the Supreme Court’s rejection of the appeal is a “victory for trans students and educators nationwide.”
“Boyertown’s schools chose to be inclusive and welcoming of transgender students in 2016, a decision the courts have affirmed again and again,” the ACLU added in a statement to CNBC. “This lawsuit sought to reverse that hard-won progress by excluding transgender students from school facilities that other students use. That would have increased the stigma and discrimination that transgender students already face.”
The rejection of the plaintiffs’ appeal comes as the Trump administration continues to roll back anti-discrimination protections for transgender Americans. Back in February 2017, the administration removed an Obama-era guidance that encouraged schools toallow students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that corresponded with their gender identity. More recently, on April 12, the Supreme Court upheld a Trump policy that bans people who identify as transgender from serving in the armed forces, which will affect an estimated 14,700 troops, according to the Palm Center.
And on May 24, the administration announced that it plans to remove Obama-era protections against transgender people seeking medical care, by removing gender identity from discrimination “on the basis of sex.” In response, the National Center for Transgender Equality called the proposal “an escalation of its dangerous attacks against transgender people.”
(Reporting by Mic)
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