In this Jan. 28, 2019, photo, Kenji Aiba, left, and his partner Ken Kozumi laugh during an interview with The Associated Press in Tokyo. Kozumi and Aiba have held onto a marriage certificate they signed at their wedding party in 2013, anticipating that Japan would emulate other advanced nations and legalize same-sex unions. That day has yet to come, and legally they are just friends even though they've lived as a married couple for more than five years. On Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, Valentine’s Day, the couple is joining a dozen other same-sex couples in Japan’s first lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the country’s rejection of same-sex marriage. (AP Photo/Toru Takahashi)
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FILE - In this May 7, 2017, file photo, participants pose on a float before the Tokyo Rainbow Pride parade celebrating the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community in Tokyo. Thirteen same-sex couples are filing Japan’s first lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the country’s rejection of same-sex marriage on Valentine Day, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019 in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi, File)
TOKYO – Thirteen same-sex couples are filing Japan's first lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the country's rejection of same-sex marriage.
The Valentine Day lawsuits to be filed in Tokyo and in other courts around the country on Thursday argue that the law violates same-sex couples' constitutional rights to equality. They want the government to follow the example of many other nations in guaranteeing marital freedom.
Ten Japanese municipalities have enacted "partnership" ordinances for same-sex couples to make it easier for them to rent apartments together, among other things, but they are not legally binding.
Many LGBT people hide their sexuality, fearing prejudice at home, school or work.
The obstacles are worse for transgender people, who face extra difficulties including a requirement they be sterilized to marry someone of the same birth sex.