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Fake news headlines suggest the US is giving out free visas to LGBTQ+ persons in Ghana.

Photo source: BBC 3 mins read

Claim: The United States of America is giving free visas to members of Ghana’s LGBTQ+ community.

Verdict: False. The U.S. is not giving free visas to LGBTQ+ individuals in Ghana. 

Full Text

The issue of LGBTQ+ in Ghana has been in the news for weeks following the launch of an LGBTQ+ office in Ghana. 

Image source: Instagram

The claim was being circulated on Instagram and was forwarded to Dubawa for fact-checking. The conversation on LGBTQ+ communities in Ghana has been and is still being discussed widely and, as such, all issues concerning the matter warrant clarification.

Verification

Firstly, we subjected the image to Google Reverse Image Search and found that the news source is fake. The frame was traced to photofunia, a site that allows users to edit images and apply picture effects to any image of their choosing within seconds. This can be done at no cost and users have a variety of options to choose from and to suit their purpose. 

Image source: Photofunia.com

This effect has been used for many fake news productions like this Facebook post on Jim Carter and some claimed news reports which Dubawa found to be fake as well.

Secondly, the claim being made is being stretched out of context. Joseph Biden, the President of the United States of America has, according to a reuters report, stated that US agencies abroad increase efforts to ensure that asylum seekers who belong to LGBTQ+ communities  be given equal access to protection and increased use of referrals to expedite resettlement of vulnerable people, in this case, criminalized LGBTQ individuals and LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers. 

In a BBC Pidgin news report, it was also stated that the US will favour LGBTQ+ community members  with resettlement visas, having recognized that such individuals face discrimination or threats in their home countries. As stated in the report, the US Federal Government will take all necessary steps to increase Embassy Priority-1 referrals and also to identify and quickly process resettlement for the highly vulnerable who are in need of protection. Priority-1 referrals are refugee cases that include all cases individually identified and referred to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR), a U.S. embassy or a non-governmental organization.

We reached out to the US embassy in Ghana and were referred to the Important Note for Current and Future Visa Applicants section of their website. There is no mention of free visas for members of the LGBTQ+ community in Ghana on the site, indicating no change in Visa needs or qualifications as otherwise suggested by the claim.

Conclusion:

The U.S. is not giving free visas to Ghanaian LGBTQ+ community members but the country is making plans to prioritise priority-1 referrals.

Roselena Ahiable is a Senior Researcher with Dubawa Ghana. Roselena has years of demonstrated work experience in advertising, sales and marketing, having worked with some of the leading brands in Ghana. She has completed a Master of Philosophy programme in Communication Studies at the University of Ghana, Legon, with specialisation in Public Relations and Advertising. She has also received advanced training in print and broadcast journalism. Roselena also holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and Theatre Arts from the University of Ghana. As a trained journalist with interest in research, Roselena provides the team insight in news and media trend analysis.

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