A Ghanaian woman who applied for
asylum in Israel had her application refused when a committee
concluded that she had "chosen the lesbian
Mavis Amponsah, who had been with a
woman for 20 years, says she was persecuted in her home country due
to her sexuality but the committee ruled her request was invalid
due to a previous relationship with a man.
According to Haaretz, Amponsah initially entered Israel in
2013 as a tourist but was imprisoned for five months after failing
to renew her travel documents. Haaretz also reports that Amponsah
was interviewed in English, a language she doesn't speak, and
struggled to understand many of the questions put to
Committee chairman Avi Himim said he
didn't believe her story and told Haaretz: "Her statements show
that she consciously and rationally adopted a lesbian
"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.
"Since arriving in Israel, she
didn't meet women or act on her alleged preference, even though
free to do so. This is contrary to what might be expected of
someone fleeing persecution for a sexual preference."
According to Amnesty International, violence against LGBT
people is common in Ghana with 98% of the population describing
homosexuality as "morally unacceptable", and in 2011, a
government minister called for the arrest of all gay men and
The decision against Amponsah, who
fears physical abuse and intimidation if returned to Ghana, has been criticised by many who describe the
arguments made by the committee as "outdated".
A spokesperson for the Israeli LGBT
Association said: "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decision regarding sexual inclinations are baseless and outdated,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."
Image: RonAlmog/Flickr Creative
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