An Osaka court ruled last Monday that Japan's ban on same-sex marriage was not unconstitutional, a blow not only to the rights of gay couples but to human rights in general.

In keeping with the conservative tradition of Japan’s judiciary, the court essentially deferred, arguing that the responsibility for such a change rests upon the shoulders of legislators. Parliamentarians must take action then. It is long past time for Japan’s same-sex couples to enjoy all the rights afforded their heterosexual counterparts.

In the Osaka case, three same-sex couples argued that they suffer “unjust discrimination” because the current legal system prevents them from getting married. In fact, discrimination goes well beyond the ability to get married. Individuals in same-sex relationships cannot inherit their partner's assets and have no parental rights over their partner's children. They are disadvantaged when paying taxes. They can be denied comfort and companionship in the most difficult personal struggles because their closest personal relationship is not recognized. The Osaka plaintiffs sought ¥1 million ($7,400) per person in damages, a paltry sum compared to the meaning and value of a ruling on their behalf.