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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 August 2006, 01:49 GMT 02:49 UK
Germany gives Iran lesbian asylum
A court in Germany has accepted an Iranian woman's bid for asylum on the grounds that she is a lesbian.

The 27-year-old woman said she would face persecution and isolation if she was sent back to Iran.

The court decided she should stay in Germany and said its ruling set a binding precedent for similar cases.

Earlier, the government in Berlin released figures showing that the number of people applying for asylum in Germany had fallen to a 20-year low.

The Interior Ministry said the highest number of applications was from Serbia and Montenegro, while there had been a sharp rise in the number of applicants from Lebanon.

The woman, whose name was not released, had travelled to Germany in September 2003 where she had applied for asylum.

She said she faced the death penalty if she returned to Iran, where homosexuality is against the law.

The Stuttgart court also heard that she faced punishment in Iran because she refused to wear a headscarf.

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