Eric Chase, the lead lawyer for an Iowa man accused of possessing obscene manga
, indicated to MTV's Splash Page blog that some of the manga in question are yaoi. Christopher Handley was originally charged on May 8, 2007, and his case will go on trial on December 2.
Chase told the Splash Page, "There is explicit sex in yaoi comics. And the men are drawn in a very androgynous style, which has the effect of making them look really young. There's a real taboo in Japan about showing pubic hair, so they're all drawn without it, which also makes them look young. So what concerned the authorities were the depictions of children in explicit sexual situations that they believed to be obscene. But there are no actual children. It was all very crude images from a comic book."
The Splash Page also interviewed award-winning comic book writer and Princess Mononoke adapter Neil Gaiman about his efforts to raise money for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF). This non-profit organization has been providing for the defense of First Amendment rights within the comic community since 1986, and it is supporting Chase's legal team on Handley's case. Gaiman noted that his own work deals with graphic violence and explicit sex with fictional minors, but for storytelling purposes and not for titillation. He added that some of his personal collection could be considered objectionable like some of Handley's collection, and criticized the rationale for Handley's arrest. "That's just deeply wrong. Nobody was hurt. The only thing that was hurt were ideas."
In July, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa struck down some of the charges against Handley and ruled parts of the PROTECT Act of 2003 unconstitutional for restricting free speech. However, Handley still faces obscenity charges and up to 20 years in prison if convicted. Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab has raised over US$38,000 for the CBLDF by selling perfume inspired by Neil Gaiman's comic books and novels.