Canada's Federal Court says the country's refugee board must reconsider the case of a lesbian who deserted the U.S. Army and fled to Canada.

Judge Yves de Montigny said Friday the board erred last February when it rejected Bethany Smith's bid.

Smith says she fled the army instead of going to Afghanistan with her unit because she was harassed and threatened by fellow soldiers over her sexual orientation.

The U.S. military has a policy of discharging openly gay members but Smith says she was denied a discharge because soldiers were needed for the Afghanistan mission.

The judge says the board unfairly dismissed evidence suggesting that gays face harsher treatment in the American military justice system.

Smith says she would fear for her life if she were returned to the army.