March 4, 2004


Tokyo District Court rejected the right of residence
for Mr. Shayda, an Iranian gay asylum-seeker

We strictly condemn this judgement of injustice
and continue our support for Mr. Shayda's fight

Team S: Task Force to save Mr. Shayda, an Iranian Gay Asylum-Seeker
Address: Team S c/o Mr. Masaki Inaba, #206, 4-55-8 Chuo Nakano-Ku, Tokyo Japan
E-mail Address: shayda@da3.so-net.ne.jp
Contact Person: Masaki Inaba, Public Relations Coordinator of Team S


We, Team S, a support group of Mr. Shayda, an Iranian gay asylum-seeker, regret to inform you that after more than 3 years and 8 months from its start, Tokyo District Court finally gave its ruring on Mr. Shayda's courtcase on February 25, 2004. The judgement totally denied Shayda's potentiality to be a refugee and rejected his right of residence of Japan.

A Shameful Judgement: "In Iran, gays can spend
their gay life avoiding persecution"

For more than 3 years and a half, we continued our support for Mr. Shayda's courtcase, tried to prove his well-founded fear of persecution by submitting more than 150 evidences, and also explained what sexual orientation is, what LGBT are, why coming out is important, etc. Also, we invited Mr. Goudarz Eghtedari, an Iranian human rights researcher and activist living in the US, and he made a clear testimony about the persecution and death penalty against Iranian gays.

However, these efforts were denied by the court. They accepted some facts related with gay persecution in Iran: they recognized there are anti-sodomy clauses including cruel death penalty in Iranian penal code, there were some cases of death penalty against gays, and Iranian government and judicial institutions have not changed anything of their attitudes against homosexuality. But they made no importance of such evidence. They found other "facts" from a document about the situation of Iranian gays, issued by the Research Directrate of Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board in 1998*. The court found some evidence that "gays are not persecuted in Iran" from this untrustworthy document and delightedly adopted these false and misguided "evidences". Quoting some parts of the document, Tokyo Court stated gays are safe in Iran, because

"there are a lot of homosexuals in Iran"
"these people have sex with same sex persons without prosecution, if they do it unofficially"
"there are very limited possibility for homosexuals to be persecuted unless they have sex publicly"
"homosexuals can lead homosexual life avoiding persecution just by avoiding the public eye when they conduct sexual behavior."

*Note: The name of the document is "1998/02/00e Subject: Iran: Update to Responses to Information Requests IRN24789.E of 22 August 1996t and IRN21549.E of 2 October 1995 on th esituation of homosexuals, and on whether legal penalties are applied in practice", made by Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Ottawa. This document is included in "UNHCR Refworld-Country Information"

Denial of the importance of coming out
and the rights of free speech to protect gay rights

In the courtcase, we repeatedly proved that he is an openly gay activist and a member of "Homan: the Group to Defend the Rights of Iranian LGBTs" from 1992. Also, we emphasized the importance of coming out of the closet and the rights of free speech to urge gay rights, as these rights are essential for LGBTs and infringement of these rights are equal to persecution. In fact, the anti-sodomy clause is one of the "Hodoud" (god's unchangeable law) in Shari'a, for this reason, we will never be able to change it without overturning the current islamic fundamentalist regime itself, so coming out as a gay and urging gay rights are extremely political discourse in the country.

But the court totally ignored it. It stated "disclosure of one's sexual orientation is merely a kind of sexual expression" and "it depends on a government of each country how to control sexual expressions of the people", so "even if a government prevents his 'sexual expression', it doesn't consist persecution".

Finally the judgement concluded that "even if he goes back to Iran, there will be no problem for his life, except that his sexual life will be controled by the government" so "He is not a refugee and there is no need to give him any rights of residence in Japan."

The Fight will be harder in the High Court,
but we will not give up!!

In the subsequent press conference, Mr. Shayda did not appear for security concerns. On his behalf, his supporter read his statement saying as that: "I didn't expect to win this case, because human rights are not respected in Japan. So I'm not in dispair. I will seek asylum in other countries where the rights of refugees are respected."

As Japanese supporters, all of the Team S members are indignant at this judgement. We condemn such inhumane and cruel indirect order of deportation and death penalty. We have another 2 opportunities: Tokyo High Court and Japanese Supreme Court. But most of the judges in the two courts are far more conservative and it is more difficult to get victory. Fortunately, Mr. Shayda is supported by UNHCR about getting his refugee status, so there will be little possibility to be deported to Iran in the future.

With Shayda, we will live together day by day and fight together until we win. We will not give up.

One problem is detention. Because of he lost his case, there is certain danger for him to be detained by the justice ministry. We have been trying to prevent his detention, by submitting more than 700 signatures of Japanese people. We will try as much as possible to prevent his detention. Please keep your eyes on this case, and please support our courtcase from all over the world.

Masaki Inaba
Public Relations Coordinator, Team S

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