We met George in immigration detention the second time he was detained. He had tried to seek protection in the U.S. once before, but without legal representation, he lost his case and was deported back to Ghana in 2018. 

After returning home, George reached out to a friend who happened to be in the LGBTQ community. Through this friend, George met his first boyfriend and realized he was bisexual. Unfortunately, George was later “outed” to homophobic local authorities. They attacked him, kidnapped him, and tortured him. Homophobic assaults like what George suffered are tragically common in Ghana, where same-sex intimacy is currently punishable with years in prison. Bravely, George escaped his captors, eventually returning to the U.S. in search of safety. 

“It is not easy for people like us in Ghana” George says. When he arrived to the U.S., he was detained at the border and then transferred several times to various detention centers across the U.S., which can make it difficult for detained immigrants to find legal counsel. Eventually, George was sent to Eloy Detention Center in Arizona. The Florence Project’s Adult Services Team connected with him there and offered free direct representation.  

“I was very scared that I would be sent back to Ghana,” George recalls. “If I go back home, I could be killed or sentenced to jail forever.”  

I reassured George that we would do our best to win his case.

Having grown up in one of the most homophobic and sexually conservative societies in the world, George understandably struggled to talk about his past relationship and persecution based on his sexual identity. However, after preparing with our legal team, he finally felt confident to testify and tell his story on the day of his hearing.  

“I like the way I am,” George now says proudly. “I am happy to be like this.”  

During court, he testified about the violent persecution he endured. He also withstood aggressive cross examination from an ICE prosecutor. We submitted evidence of Ghana’s new anti-LGBTQ legislation, which seeks to raise the prison time for same sex intimacy and criminalize people who identify, or are identified, as LGBTQ. Ultimately, with George’s testimony and our legal representation – after nine months in immigration detention while his case was adjudicated – the judge granted George’s case. He’d finally won freedom!

“I was very very excited, very very happy,” George says, recalling the moment the judge let him know he no longer had to fear deportation. “Right now in America, I feel more comfortable. I am not scared anymore.” 

When asked about his future plans, George says he wants to continue working, going to the park in his free time, and hopefully settle down someday with a new romantic partner, this time without fear of facing anti-LGBTQ attacks.  

George’s story reminds us of the resilience and bravery of those we serve, and the importance of our mission. Thank you for making our services possible through your solidarity!