Nino was forced to leave her family and country because of her sexual orientation. To escape from the rampant homophobia in Georgia, Nino seeked asylum in Germany, however, the road to safety and happiness turned out to be difficult and stressful.
With her request, Nino’s name has been changed in this story.
Where she grew up, in Kakheti, Nino has never hidden her feelings. She confidently said – “such a cool girl!” People around her didn’t bat an eye and attributed her phrases to being a child. Back then, Nino did not know what the word “lesbian” or “gay” meant. She perceived herself as “normal” and could not imagine that someone could refuse to accept her.
Psychiatrist, Psychologist, Church.
During teenage years, she was able to label her emotions. Meanwhile her family’s concern increased and she realized that she had to be more careful. Everything changed when Nino’s sister read messages on her phone, talking to an openly lesbian girl. “They took me to a psychiatrist, psychologist, and churches. They would not let me out of the house. I had to grow my hair out, wear dresses and make-up.” – recalls Nino.
At the age of 14, to escape her family, Nino ran away from home. She says that she made this decision after talking to a 30 year-old lesbian. That woman that introduced herself to Nino as a lesbian and flirted with her, easily gained the trust of a teenage girl, taking her to Tbilisi.
Before leaving, the woman told her to take out her sim-card, break it and throw it away. Nino became suspicious and did not follow through. It turned out that the woman was involved in trafficking, however, before making it to Turkey, police found them and arrested that woman.
Nino returned home. She was again taken to psychologists, psychiatrists and was given medication.
At the age of 18, she enrolled in University and moved to Tbilisi. She soon met a girl, Gulnar [name has been changed] that she fell in love with, whose parents wanted to marry her off.
“On her engagement night she sneaked out and came over to me. Her parents found out where I lived and took her away. She was badly beaten. The police got involved,” – recalls Nino and adds that her parents also found out and the pressure doubled. Because of stress, Nino was unable to study or work.
Nino lived with her friend, her partner – in a women’s shelter, when she did something she could never imagine. With the help of her friends, they collected some money and bought the cheapest flight and left Georgia.
The first steps in Berlin brought Nino relief. She felt as if she had left all of her problems behind. On the other hand, her heart ached for her family that she still loved and would never see again.
“I had decided that I would never come back “, – says Nino.
Upon arrival, Nino and Gulnar became refugees. Here starts another extremely difficult period in Nino’s life.
She recalls that she was placed in a shelter for asylum seekers, where rainwater leaked and it was very unhygienic. It was such a nightmare that we started contemplating going back on the first day.
On the second day, their documents were taken away. According to Nino, during the search, she was treated without dignity. Finally, without any explanation they were given train tickets to Leipzig.
Even without any knowledge of the language and complex transportation network, Nino and Gulnar made it to Leipzig. However, they found themselves in a worse situation than before. “We were given a room that did not lock. We could not leave our items there, or sleep peacefully. There was a communal shower that also did not lock. Men barged in a few times” – says Nino.
Due to horrendous conditions, Nino came to the administration with a complaint and she was redirected to a different city. When they arrived there, Gulnar’s relatives suddenly appeared and took photos of her, to send them to her parents.
“There was a conflict and even assaulted me with a chair”, – recalls Nino.
Girls went to German NGOs that work with LGBT issues. With its help they were given a room in a Queer dorm. The dorm was better, however, Nino and Gulnar had to be “twice as hungry” since by saying no to asylum they also refused free meals. They did not have a right to work and they were only given 30 euros each, weekly, which was not enough.
After this, with the help of the NGO they moved to a different flat. “We arrived, put down our bags, and were greeted with my partner’s parents. They barged into our house and we had to call the police again” – says Nino.
While waiting for shelter, girls broke up. According to Nino, Gulnar was unable to deal with being in Germany and moved back with her parents.
“While being here together, I wouldn’t say we were comfortable with each other. We did not have money, did not know the language and did not have the right to work. Her parents constantly badgered us, we had to deal with a lot of bureaucracy, we did not have the chance to be together, as a normal couple “ – She says and adds that she had also felt the same way. However, unlike Gulnat, she completely cut off her family and with it her road back home.
Upon Gulnar’s return home, Nino was denied shelter in Germany.
“I was paralyzed with fear. Do I have to return home now? I have lost everything and everyone, I am a nobody and now I have to return to Georgia? – recalls Nino.
However, with the help of NGOs Nino was able to find a legal way to stay in Germany – started a job in a Bio shop and studying at a college. Right now Nino has midterms, German girlfriend and is happy. But:
“What I have been through, I would not go through again. Yes, I am happy now, but I would erase the past two years of my life if I could. It was a traumatic experience.”