Osaka Court Recognizes Gay African Man as Refugee

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Osaka District Court

Osaka, July 4 (Jiji Press) — Osaka District Court on Thursday revoked a decision by immigration authorities not to grant a refugee status to a gay man from North Africa at risk of persecution in his home country.

“If he returns home, he may be arrested or prosecuted,” Presiding Judge Atsushi Tokuchi said, backing the plaintiff in his 30s living in the Kinki western Japan region.

According to his lawyers, this is the second case in Japan in which a sexual minority has been recognized as a refugee in a lawsuit, due to the threat of persecution.

The man came to Japan in December 2019 and applied for refugee status the following month. But the Osaka Regional Immigration Services Bureau decided not to grant him the status in February 2021.

The man began the suit in July 2022, claiming that same-sex sexual intercourse is punishable by imprisonment under the criminal law of his home country and that he could be killed by his family because of his sexual orientation.

“In his country, LGBT people are at risk of violence from third parties, including police officers,” said the ruling, which was read out by another judge on behalf of Tokuchi.

The court concluded that the plaintiff deserves to be recognized as a refugee because he had been nearly killed by his family and could be harmed if he returns home.

At a news conference after the ruling, the man said he feels happy after having a tough time for years.

The Immigration Services Agency said it will respond appropriately after closely examining the ruling.