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Thirteen LGBTQ couples took legal action against the Japanese government Thursday over its prohibition of same-sex marriage.
HuffPost Japan's Jun Tsuboike covered the story from a Tokyo courtroom, where he says a group representing the plaintiffs handed out Valentine's Day chocolates to the press.
He also spoke with two plaintiffs about their lawsuit, the dual challenges female sexual minorities face and why they think Japan's entire institution of marriage needs an overhaul.
The women, who have been together for more than 20 years, said they'd never even had much interest in formalizing their union. But they see marriage equality as a crucial step in their larger fight for LGBTQ rights.
The various lawsuits, filed in cities across the country, have drawn a lot of attention. "It's notable that the plaintiffs come from diverse backgrounds, like an international couple whose marriage is recognized overseas but not in Japan, and another raising children from previous marriages," Jun said.
But reactions have been mixed. "We've noticed positive reactions on social media from both the LGBT community and allies, but the top comments on Yahoo, Japan's largest news portal site, have been rather negative," Jun said.
It could take years before a verdict is announced, especially if the cases make it all the way to the country's Supreme Court. "Supporters are raising money to help with the legal expenses, and a recent nationwide survey showed the majority of respondents support same-sex marriage," Jun said. "Some are skeptical whether they'll win in court but they expressed the importance of taking the first step in what looks like will be a long battle."
Until next time,
A debate over "late-term abortions" has dominated U.S. media and conversation since two states sought to ease restrictions on women ending their pregnancies in the third trimester. People are asking: What kind of woman would do that? In response, Dina Zirlott, a 31-year-old mother, shared the story of the daughter she wishes she could have aborted in the eighth month of pregnancy. That's when Dina learned her daughter had a condition doctors said was "not compatible with life." The little girl, conceived by rape when Dina was 17, survived for one agonizing year after she was born. The story took my breath away and stirred up a barrage of emotional responses on social media. It's a crucial addition to a wider conversation that tends to portray women who seek to end their pregnancies closer to term as cold-hearted caricatures.
Human rights groups and a U.S. senator have been pressuring Apple and Google to drop a Saudi government app that allows male "guardians" to track and manage women under their control. HuffPost U.S. ran a story about the mounting criticism against Absher, which is available for download in the Google Play store and Apple's app store. "It is hardly news that the Saudi monarchy seeks to restrict and repress Saudi women, but American companies should not enable or facilitate the Saudi government's patriarchy," U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) wrote Monday in an open letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Cook and a Google spokesman have since responded to media reports with assurances that they are reviewing the app.