A family court in Japan declared it unconstitutional to require an individual to undergo gender-affirming surgery to obtain identification in line with their gender. The Shizuoka Family Court in Central Japan struck down the law, previously upheld as constitutional by Japan’s Supreme Court in 2019, last week.The Thursday verdict, which has been widely celebrated by LGBTQ+ activists, originated with a lawsuit filed by Gen Suzuki, a transgender man who sought to change his gender on his identification from female to male, without having undergone gender-affirming surgery. The Shizuoka Family Court upheld his request, stating that requiring surgery “raises a question of its necessity and rationality.” The court also noted that “changing one’s gender was a compelling legal interest.”Prior to the court’s decision, Japanese law required that transgender individuals first undergo gender-affirming surgery—in line with a gender identity disorder diagnosis—to change their gender on their family register. The court found that the provision should be nullified, citing to Article 13 of Japan’s Constitution, which protects the right to individual’s pursuit of happiness.Previously, Japan’s Supreme Court upheld the same law at issue in Thursday’s decision. In the Supreme Court’s 2019 ruling, the court found that the law was not unconstitutional in light of the necessity of the requirement and its reasonableness in line with society’s view on transgender individuals and the Japanese family system.Currently, Japan is the only G8 country to not recognize same-sex marriages. Though, recent decisions seem to be taking small steps towards the acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community, as a July decision from the Japanese Supreme Court found a governmental restriction on the use of women’s bathrooms by transgender women to be unlawful.

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