A district court in Japan has ruled that not allowing same-sex couples to marry is 'unconstitutional'.
The landmark ruling is the first in the country on the legality of such marriages, setting a precedent in the only G7 nation not to fully recognise same-sex partnerships.
The country's constitution still defines marriage as being based on 'the mutual consent of both sexes'.
However, the Sapporo District Court found that Japan's failure to recognise same-sex marriage is unconstitutional - although it dismissed a request for compensation from the three couples who brought the case.
The ruling said: "Sexual orientation cannot be changed or selected by a person's will.
"It is discriminatory treatment [...] that they cannot receive even some of the legal benefits that heterosexuals do."
Masa Yanagisawa, head of Prime Services at Goldman Sachs Japan and a board member of the NGO Marriage for All Japan, said: "For things that are part of the national system, such as pensions, there's nothing they can do.
"All the other advanced countries have this, so Japan will lose out competitively. Then there's the fact that people can't be who they are. It becomes quite business critical."
The court threw out the demand for damages by the six plaintiffs, who had asked the Japanese government to compensate them 1 million yen ($9,200/£6,600) each in damages, in acknowledgement of the pain and injustice they suffered by not being able to marry.
Takeharu Kato, the lawyer of the plaintiffs, said the verdict overall was 'revolutionary', urging parliament to start working on a law to make same-sex marriage possible as soon as possible.
The lawyer told a news conference: "We praise this ruling for taking in the plaintiffs' earnest appeals."
One of the plaintiffs, a woman known only as 'E', said: "Only because the gender of the person we love is different, we can't get married. We live the same lives as heterosexuals, have the same troubles and the same joys.
"Though our lives are exactly the same, the nation wouldn't recognise this."
Similar cases are currently being heard in four other courts across Japan, with this ruling having the potential to indirectly influence their outcome.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said he had not read the ruling in detail, but added that the government would 'carefully watch' the outcomes of the other court cases.
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