Japan Grants First Refugee Status to Homosexual in Fear of Persecution

Attendees take part in the Tokyo Rainbow Pride Parade on May 6, 2018 in Tokyo, Japan. The LGBT community and supporters marched down Shibuya and Harajuku areas on the final day of the Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2018 event. (Photo by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)
Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

Inside sources revealed on Wednesday that Japan granted refugee status in 2018 to a foreign national who feared persecution because they were homosexual.

This is believed to be the first individual granted refugee status by Japan due to persecution over sexual orientation.

The Japan Times on Wednesday reported the name, nationality, and sex of the refugee were not disclosed. The individual was jailed in a foreign country where homosexuality is illegal and then traveled to Japan to request asylum, fearing they would be arrested again if they returned home.

The decision was seen by the Japan Times as one of several recent “moves to support the rights of LGBT couples.” According to the report:

On Monday, Ibaraki Prefecture became the first prefecture to officially recognize same-sex couples.

In March, the Justice Ministry revoked a deportation order for a gay Taiwanese man who lives in Japan with a Japanese partner and granted him special permission to stay, apparently in consideration of his rights as a member of a sexual minority.

Japanese Justice Minister Takashi Yamashita said his ministry considers “factors such as the legal system in the applicant’s country of origin” when processing asylum requests. He promised the ministry would “swiftly and surely protect those who genuinely need asylum.”

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