German judge tells lesbian refugee: go back to the closet in Iran

Samira Ghorbani Danesh, a 24-year old Iranian lesbian refugee who fled Iran in 2009, told by German court: your asylum application is rejected, go back to Iran and hide your sexuality

German judge tells lesbian refugee: go back to the closet in Iran
30 June 2012

Samira Ghorbani Daneish, a 24 year old Iranian lesbian who fled Iran in 2009 faces deportation back to Iran after a German court ruling.

The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) rejected her asylum application, and her appeal was turned down by the Bayreuth Administrative Court on the grounds that Daneish had not ‘credibly established that she was in danger in Iran’.

The court told Daneish she would be ‘safe’ back at her country if she keeps a ‘low profile’. Daneish has now only one month until she is deported from her home in Bavaria, Germany back to Iran. She hopes that during this month, though the courts that have so far denied her plea for asylum, she can overturn this court decision.

Her plight started when she attended a party back in Iran where gays and lesbians were dancing and kissing, drinking alcohol and listening to western music.

During the party she noticed from the balcony the Basij militia was about to enter the building, she tried warning her friends who did not hear her as the music was too loud. She managed to hide at a neighbour’s flat.

Daneish’s girlfriend, identified by her initial ‘S’ and her friends that were all partying were arrested. Daneish only knows that ‘S’ has been questioned by the police and has no knowledge of her fate.

Daneish was finally caught and interrogated by the police and her family received a visit from the Basij, who she says have probably informed them of her sexuality.

‘I was so afraid of my family. I had to leave before they tried to take revenge on me for bringing shame to the family name’, Daneish told the German daily Die Welt.

Daneish fled Iran in 2009 through Turkey, eventually reaching the south German state of Bavaria.

She has been living in a women’s home in Germany waiting to hear if she would be granted asylum.

If deported she could face a brutal punishment; same sex acts between women are punished with 100 lashes for each of the first three offenses, after which capital punishment is applied.

However the German courts have rejected her asylum application citing they had doubt about her account of persecution.

Daneish argued ‘why should I make something up and leave my family and friends?’

Asylum experts agree that if is deported she will face immediate danger of imprisonment, abuse and even death given the attention her case has received.

The judge presiding over the case recommended to Danesh that she hide her sexuality in order to protect herself.

Experts say the judge’s decision is wrong on two levels; not only this would compromise her freedom and ability to lead a normal life but even if she wished this would be virtually impossible as her case has been public and her family has now been informed of her sexuality.

Germans have spoke out for Daneish. Over 2,000 people, including leaders of political parties, have signed an open letter to the German Minister of the Interior asking for Daneish and all other gay Iranian refugees to be granted asylum.

Speaking with Gay Star News, Dr Gorji Marzban chairperson of the Austrian-based Oriental Queer Organization said: ‘The Iranian government claims homosexuality doesn’t exist. This means that Iranian lesbian women are living already within a strictly hidden and discrete sphere in the society.

‘Lesbians are forced to marry, forced to get pregnant and to give birth. They are victims of rape and physical abuse by their lawful husbands, fathers, brothers, uncles, the police and the militias.

‘Firstly Samira is out, she can’t just go back to the closet.

‘Secondly and more profoundly do the German courts really think that it is legitimate to ask someone to hide their sexuality and therefore decide to condemn them to such a fate described above? Surely this is a question of basic human rights!’

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