Israel has rejected Mavis Amponsah’s application for asylum because she “chose to adopt a lesbian lifestyle.”
Thousands of people seek asylum everyday for various reasons. LGBTI asylum seekers around the globe are facing rejection based on ideas that the individual has chosen to be same-sex attracted. This is what 41 year old Mavis Amponsah is being told.
Amponsah, originally from Ghana, entered Israel in December 2013 and immediately applied for asylum. Her position is that she faced objections and discrimination from her community for the 20 years she was in a relationship with another woman. She stated that her and her partner had been attacked multiple times and threatened repeatedly. Amponsah says that she will not return to her partner in Ghana “out of fear for her life.”
On August 19, Amponsah was informed that her application was rejected because the committee ruled that she had “chosen to adopt a lesbian lifestyle.” Avi Himi, the committee’s chairman, stated that there were contradictions and facts that didn’t align and made him believe that Amponsah was not a lesbian.
In a written statement, Himi penned that “She never said she was attracted to women but stated that she became a lesbian after being disappointed with her relationship with a previous male partner, who betrayed her for another woman. Her statements show that she consciously and rationally adopted a lesbian lifestyle. This wasn’t a preference she had had all her life, forming an integral part of her identity, so her claims of a clear sexual preference are unacceptable.”
The committee also used the reasoning that Amponsah had not made an effort to meet any women or begin a relationship to “prove” that she was lying about her preference.
Amponsah was originally interviewed in English, a language she does not speak very well. Her attorney, Yadin Elam, has appealed to the Population, Immigration and Border Authority, protesting “the absurd claims regarding her sexual inclinations.” and demanding a new interview be conducted with a translator to Akan, Amponsah’s mother tongue.
However, the Population and Immigration Authority released a statement saying that “claims that Ms. Amponsah was interviewed in a language she supposedly doesn’t know, leading to doubts over our professionalism, are ridiculous.”
The Israeli LGBT Association has stated that “the arguments appearing in the committee’s decision regarding sexual inclinations are baseless and outdated, and should no longer be used. A lesbian’s inclination can exist even if she doesn’t act on it by living with another woman, just as a heterosexual woman maintains her sexual identity when she lives alone, or when she chooses not to act on her romantic or physical attraction to men.”