‘If you don’t want us, tell us to go back’

By Sarah Tory—High Country News—May 15, 2017—

Of all the details Abdul Khan remembers of his flight from his home country, Ghana, perhaps the clearest is the glint of light on the machetes. He was 25 years old, and his textile business was failing. There were few jobs in his isolated village in Ghana’s mountainous interior, and Khan had started working for two gay men, who ran an underground male prostitution business. In Ghana, homosexuality is not tolerated. You can be imprisoned for it, and you can be killed. When Khan’s association became known, gossip began circulating that he, too, was gay. One day in the fall of 2014, his uncle sat him down for a talk. Renounce that friendship, his uncle said, or die. Khan had already heard rumors that his neighbors were looking to kill him before he “infected” their children, so he took his uncle’s threat seriously. One night, as he lay awake and fearful in bed, a group of men brandishing machetes approached the house. Khan jumped out of bed and escaped through a window in the back.