Last edited: January 01, 2005

Japan Refuses Sanctuary to Fleeing Gay, April 12, 2004

By Peter Hacker, Newscenter, Asia Bureau Chief

Tokyo—A Japanese court yesterday rejected a request for refugee status from a gay Iranian man who claimed that his sexuality would be grounds for the death penalty if he was sent back to his homeland.

It was the first case taken by a Japanese court dealing with a person who had sought refugee status citing homosexuality.

The Tokyo District Court said the 40-year-old man’s sexual orientation was not grounds enough to grant refugee status.

“In Iran, he has been concealing his homosexuality. Therefore, the possibility is slight that he would be persecuted at home,” presiding judge Yosuke Ichimura said.

The man fled to Japan in 1991 because of fears that he would be persecuted in his native country, according to court documents. He was arrested by Japanese authorities in 2000 as an illegal immigrant, the documents said.

Various international organizations, including the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, have asked Japan to accept more refugees.

Japan accepted 10,919 refugees between 1975 and 2000, according to foreign ministry figures, equivalent to less than 437 people a year.

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