Married Japanese Lesbians Become Refugees In Canada

Married Japanese Lesbians Become Refugees In Canada

A pair of Japanese lesbians who married in Canada five years ago have revealed they are now refugees in the North American country due to widespread discrimination in Japan. 

The Asahi Shimbun reports that Hana and Eri, who are in their 50s and 30s respectively, got married in Canada during 2019 and returned to Japan after the ceremony. However, their union was not recognised under current laws and they soon faced discrimination for their marriage from both their local communities and workplaces.

This prompted the couple to move permanently to Canada in 2021, where they subsequently applied for and received refugee status from immigration authorities.

In their application, the couple submitted a 200-page document that fully explained how they were treated in Japan and explained the legal system for same-sex couples. After interviews and public hearings, they were accepted as refugees.

One of the reasons Canada granted the request of the women is the U.N. Committee’s report, which says women and LGBTQI+ people are widely discriminated against, despite the fact that Japan has no formal laws against homosexuality. 

Despite the arduous process, Hana and Eri are going public about gaining refugee status in an effort to raise awareness about the mistreatment of LGBTQI+ people in Japanese society. 

Advances for gay rights in Japan

The news comes after steps forward for gay rights in Japan earlier this year, including the Sapporo High Court ruling that disallowing same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Furthermore, Tokyo Rainbow Pride had its biggest year ever in April with 15,000 people taking part in the parade.

Still, for the time being, Japan is the only G7 country who does not formally recognise same-sex marriages or civil unions. There are also very few protections in place for LGBTQI+ people in Japan.

That said, support to legalise same-sex marriage and further protections for queer people has increased dramatically, with roughly 70% of the Japanese population supporting the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

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