A German court ruled on Monday that an Iranian lesbian cannot be deported because she faces a death sentence if returned to Iran because of her sexuality.

According to the Associated Press, the 27-year-old woman, whose name was not released, travelled to Germany in September 2003 and applied for asylum.

She argued that she would be persecuted if returned to Iran but was turned down by German immigration officials. She appealed, telling the court that she felt excluded from society in the Islamic republic and wanted to “live out her homosexuality openly without having to fear persecution,” the AP reports.

The Stuttgart administrative court ordered the government to grant her request for asylum.

A number of European countries placed a moratorium on deporting gays to Iran following reports two gay teens were hanged after being found “guilty of homosexuality.”

Earlier this year the Dutch parliament rejected a request by the Immigration Minister to end the moratorium.

In a letter to lawmakers, Rita Verdonk said that her ministry had found that while gay sex was punishable by death under Islamic law, an investigation into the hangings had determined that the pair were hanged not because they were gay but because they had robbed, kidnapped and raped a minor.

Although Iran maintained robbery and rape were behind the executions all along many international human rights organisations believed it to be “a smokescreen.” Other groups that monitor Iran said the government explanation was most likely correct.

According to Iranian human rights campaigners, over 4,000 lesbians and gay men have been executed since the Ayatollahs came to power in 1979.

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