Japan grants refugee status for homophobic persecution for first time ever

Japan Japanese outing LGBT campaigners attend a Pride event in Tokyo, Japan where the first refugee has been accepted on ground of LGBT+ persecution

Japan has granted asylum to an LGBT+ refugee on the grounds of homophobic persecution in their home country for the first time.

Details including the refugee’s home country and gender have been withheld for protection.

Japanese site Asahi reported: “According to the Immigration Control Agency, the applicant was arrested by police in his home country for homosexuality, held in jail for two years, and then came to Japan during bail.”

The person in question was granted refugee status because they would be arrested if they returned to their country of origin.

According to Asahi, the Immigration Bureau said homosexuality was “a characteristic that is closely linked to personality or identity and difficult to change.”

It judged that “there is a risk of being persecuted because he is a member of a specific social group.”

According to the ILGA, there are currently 70 countries where homosexuality is criminalised, and of these there are up to 11 where being gay is punishable by death.

Participant march in the Tokyo Rainbow Pride parade on the streets of Tokyo, Japan, 28 April 2019. (Di Ciommo/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Only 42 out of 10,493 granted refugee status in Japan on grounds of persecution of any kind

Although this is the first time Japan has granted asylum on the grounds of LGBT+ persecution, in March a Taiwanese man in a same-sex relationship with a Japanese citizen was given special permission to stay in the country.

A lawyer said that it was “the first time special permission to stay in the country has been given to a foreign gay partner of a Japanese citizen.”

Japan is very strict when it comes to immigration, and according to Japan Times 10,493 people applied for refugee status in Japan last year, but only 42 were granted asylum because of persecution of any kind in the country they had come from.

A conservative country when it comes to LGBT+ rights, Japan does not allow same-sex marriage and provides little protection against discrimination because of sexual orientation or gender identity.