Japan Govt Ordered to Give Refugee Status to Ugandan Lesbian

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Osaka District Court

OSAKA (Jiji Press) — A court ordered the government Wednesday to cancel its decision to reject an application by a Ugandan woman for refugee status in Japan who left her country due to discrimination against LGBT people.

“It is feared that the woman could be persecuted for being homosexual if she returns home,” said Hajime Morikagi, presiding judge at the Osaka District Court.

This is a landmark ruling, as there had been no cases in which refugee status was recognized in a Japanese court on the grounds of LGBT status, according to lawyers for the plaintiff.

The woman in her 30s was assaulted by police officers in Uganda after she came out to her mother, leaving the country in 2020, according to her claims.

After arriving in Japan, she was detained at the Osaka Regional Immigration Services Bureau. She applied for refugee status, but the application was rejected.

The government had claimed that no one has been convicted in Uganda for homosexual acts, although these are considered to be sexual intercourse against the laws of nature and illegal there. It also had argued that the human rights situation in Uganda has improved drastically.

The Ugandan woman told a press conference in Osaka that she was very happy about the court ruling. Those who are seeking refugee status in Japan should not lose hope, she added.

The Immigration Services Agency of Japan said that it will take appropriate action after scrutinizing the ruling.