Top Court May Review Ruling against Benefits for Same-Sex Partner

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The Supreme Court may review a high court judgment that the same-sex partner of a murder victim is ineligible for survivor benefits.

The top court’s Third Petty Bench, presided by Justice Michiharu Hayashi, decided Wednesday to hold oral arguments on March 5, the step necessary to change a high court ruling.

The lawsuit was filed by Yasuhide Uchiyama, 48, who claimed that the Aichi prefectural public safety board’s rejection of his application for the benefits made under the crime victim compensation program was illegal and demanded that the prefectural government revoke the move.

The Supreme Court will make a decision on the issue of public benefits for same-sex partners for the first time.

Uchiyama’s partner was murdered in 2014 at age 52 after they lived together for more than 20 years. The application was filed as the program stipulates payment of the benefits to those who effectively had marital relations with crime victims.

The district court dismissed Uchiyama’s claim in June 2020, saying that living together with a same-sex partner had yet to be socially accepted as something equal to a marital relationship.

In August 2022, the high court ruled that same-sex partners were not socially viewed as equal to heterosexual or married couples, although he made an additional argument that the payment rejection went against a constitutional clause guaranteeing equality before the law.