South Korean court backs Pakistani gay's refugee bid
A Pakistani man who fled his country for fear of being persecuted because of his sexual orientation should be granted refugee status in South Korea, Yonhap News reported Sunday.
The Seoul Administrative Court said it had overturned a decision by the justice ministry to deny refugee status to the man, whose name and age were withheld.
The man applied for refugee status citing his sexual orientation early last year, having arrived in South Korea in 1996.
“My life, as a homosexual, was in danger in my country,” Yonhap quoted him as saying.
“My family and relatives were my enemy. They said I was insulting my family, Islam and my country and threatened that they would report me to police.”
The man had petitioned the government for refugee status in February of last year. The Justice Ministry rejected his application four months later, however, saying his petition did not meet the criteria of a "well-founded fear of being persecuted" as stipulated by the U.N. convention on refugees.
The Seoul Administrative Court reversed the ministry's decision, saying that should he be repatriated "there is a high likelihood that the plaintiff will be subject to persecution by the Pakistani government and Muslim society simply because he is gay."
South Korea signed on to the United Nations' refugee treaty in 1992. It has since granted asylum to 145 out of 2,413 applicants for refugee status. The first approval was in 2001 for an Ethiopian male.