A Japanese court on Wednesday became the first in the country to rule against the nation's same-sex marriage ban in a victory for LGBTQ activists.
The Associated Press reported that the Sapporo District Court found the ban to be unconstitutional, ruling that it violates provisions banning discrimination on the basis of race, creed, sex, social status or family origin.
“Legal benefits stemming from marriages should equally benefit both homosexuals and heterosexuals," the court said, according to the AP.
The ruling will reportedly not trigger immediate policy changes in the country but could open up the ban to further legal action and strengthen efforts by activists to overturn it through legislation.
“I hope this ruling serves as a first step for Japan to change," one of the plaintiffs in the case said, according to the AP.
Currently, same-sex couples in Japan cannot marry, inherit their spouse's property or share parental rights. The country is the only member of the Group of Seven nations to ban same-sex marriage.
A spokesman for the government, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato, said at a news conference after the court's decision was announced that officials would "carefully watch" further rulings on the subject but did not promise policy changes.