The Latest: Gay couples sue for marital rights in Japan

In this Jan. 28, 2019, photo, Kenji Aiba, left, speaks as his partner Ken Kozumi listens during an interview with The Associated Press in Tokyo. Kozumi and Aiba have held onto a marriage certificate they signed at their wedding party in 2013, anticipating that Japan would emulate other advanced nations and legalize same-sex unions. That day has yet to come, and legally they are just friends even though they've lived as a married couple for more than five years. On Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, Valentine’s Day, the couple is joining a dozen other same-sex couples in Japan’s first lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the country’s rejection of same-sex marriage. (AP Photo/Toru Takahashi)
Plaintiffs speak to journalists before they file lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the country's rejection of same-sex marriage, near Tokyo District Court in Tokyo Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. The Valentine Day lawsuits argue the law violates same-sex couples' constitutional rights to equality. (Chika Ohshima/Kyodo News via AP)

TOKYO — The Latest on lawsuits challenging Japan's rejection of same-sex marriage (all times local):

11 a.m.

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.

___

10 a.m.

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.

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