Ghana, Granted Asylum, Global, International

Gay Man Who Fled Ghana To The U.S. Finally Granted Asylum 

Thank goodness for freedom!

A man who fled Ghana after a brutal attack has finally been granted asylum

The man, identified as Mr. B, first left Ghana in 2019 after, despite carefully hiding his sexuality from his loved ones, he was brutally assaulted by a gang that same year. 

The truck driver decided to take the dangerous journey to North America for the opportunity of freedom. He passed through 10 different countries and finally reached the U.S. border in May 2020, where he was detained for three months until he was transferred to the Stewart Detention Facility in Lumpkin, Georgia. 

He stayed in a dormitory with over 60 men without proper COVID-19 protections until, thanks to a family friend of a friend, Claire Thomas, lead professor of the Asylum Clinic at New York Law School, received his case. 

Through a collaborative effort between the clinic, the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR), and the Envision Freedom Fund, Mr. B’s $15,000 bond was paid, and volunteers with the Southern Poverty Law Project helped him travel by bus from Atlanta to New York. 

Thomas and Mr. B met in late August 2020 in a park close to NYU Law’s campus to have documents signed. Due to COVID restrictions and Immigration Court closures, Mr. B finally had his hearing date in court three and a half years later and was officially granted asylum in early 2024. 

The law professor hopes his story prompts sponsorship for B’s commercial driver’s license so he can get back to work.

“We’re hoping to get the word out and to have him sponsored by a company to pay for that, which will lead to a job,” Thomas said. 

“In Ghana, he had a two-year apprenticeship to learn also how to do repairs for his own truck because if it broke down, there’s no self-service.”

Ghana’s parliament has voted to pass a controversial bill in March 2024 that will make it a criminal act to be openly gay. Bill provisions state people who engage in LGBTQ sexual acts could face six months to three years behind bars. Citizens who participate in “wilful promotion, sponsorship, or support of LGBTQ+ activities” also face penalties of three to five years in prison. 

The bill was first presented in 2021, receiving support from several religious and traditional leaders. It was sponsored by several lawmakers, who passed it on Feb. 28.

In April 2020, then-law students Paige Beddow and Scott A. Cain of the Immigration Law Clinic at West Virginia University College of Law argued a case similar to Mr. B’s. After a gay man fled the West African nation after he was beaten, doused with kerosene, and threatened with being beheaded, immigration judges rejected the case since it only involved one attack. One judge suggested prosecution could be avoided if he kept his sexuality a secret. 

U.S. Circuit Judge L. Felipe Restrepo sided with the law students and asked the immigration court to reconsider.

“He was threatened with death by fire or decapitation while being assaulted, doused with fuel and exposed to a cutlass,” Restrepo said. “All that was left for the mob to do was to cut off his head or set him on fire.”

Now that Mr. B is free, he says he’s “so relieved” and looks forward to dating and working. He wants his story to help Americans realize what the LGBTQ+ community endures in Ghana.

“What I really want the world to know is that queer Ghanaians have no life. They have no voice,” he said of the dangerous conditions faced by Ghanaians in the LGBTQ+ community. “They live and survive by a miracle, meaning that if you, as a queer person, make even the slightest mistake, you will be gone.” 

After celebrating his sexuality by attending his first-ever Pride celebration, Mr. B said, “The atmosphere was great” and “noticed that everyone can do anything they want here because they are free.”