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A gay Nigerian man’s journey to asylum in the USA
  1. Mytien Nguyen1,
  2. Ryan Handoko1,
  3. Emmanuella Asabor1 and
  4. Katherine C McKenzie2
  1. 1 Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
  2. 2 Department of Internal Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Katherine C McKenzie, Katherine.mckenzie{at}


We report the case of an individual from Nigeria seeking asylum in the USA on the basis of persecution for being gay, who was physically and sexually assaulted in Nigeria and detained upon arrival to the USA. We present physical examination findings and the results of a brief mental health evaluation performed at Elizabeth Detention Center in New Jersey for his asylum evaluation. Individuals are able to seek asylum as members of a “particular social group”, in this case, being gay. They seek asylum in the USA as they will continue to be at risk for harm if they stay in their home countries. However, the detention of asylum seekers often violates US human rights obligations and can occur without formal oversight. We explore the unique complications and experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer asylum seekers throughout the asylum process, from Nigeria to a detention centre in the USA.

  • global health
  • migration and health

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  • Contributors MN planned and organised the work. KCM and RH conducted the asylum evaluation. MN, RH and EA carried out the literature review, wrote the manuscript and revised it extensively. KCM supervised the writing of the manuscript and revised it extensively. All the authors approved the final version of the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests KCM has the following conflict of interest: Relationships related to asylum work - KCM is a volunteer for Physicians for Human Rights and had been paid in the past for being a lead trainer in asylum training sessions. KCM volunteers for many nonprofit organizations such as American Friends Service Committee, Connecticut Institute for Immigrants and Refugees, Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services, New Haven Legal Assistance Association and HealthRight International. When traveling to detention facilities, KCM is paid for her travel expenses. KCM was paid to speak at Stony Brook University Grand Rounds. Family financial interests (unrelated to asylum work): KCM’s family owns stock in Arvinas, Inc, a pharmaceutical company KCM’s husband founded that works on technologies to create cancer medications. KCM’s husband Craig Crews receives royalties from Amgen, a company that makes a cancer medication called Kyprolis that he helped create. KCM’s husband is paid to speak frequently at conferences about his work as a cancer biologist.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Patient consent for publication Obtained.