On Friday I said I’d be back with a human rights related story soon.
Here it is.
Disowned by his own family for being gay, Hazim Ismail says living in Canada has been a relief since fleeing Malaysia three years ago.
But the University of Winnipeg student fears he’ll be sent back home if he doesn’t raise the remainder of his winter term tuition in the coming weeks.
“I don’t really know what’s going to happen. I’m just so nervous about it,” said Ismail, 27.
Ismail came to Winnipeg in 2013 so he could live without fear of persecution, but was soon outed to his family by a cousin, who he suspects saw a photo of him taken at a local gay club.
“I have to make sure that I don’t have any relatives on my Facebook, but apparently I missed one, and then I was outed to my mother, and it just became this snowball of a conflict,” he said.
His family, who was paying for his tuition and living expenses, cut him off after finding out about the photo, he said.
Sodomy is a criminal offence in Malaysia that’s punishable by up to 20 years in prison, and Ismail said simply visiting an underground gay club in Malaysia could land someone in jail.
“You’re susceptible to raids by the Islamic police,” he said.
“Dating in Malaysia is hell,” he added.
On Saturday, Ismail had managed to raise $4,550 out of the $5,000 goal he’d set for tuition on a GoFundMe page.
He said he’s been ‘touched’ by the outpour of support from the community, but fears if he doesn’t come up with the remainder of his tuition and living costs, he’ll lose his immigration status and be sent home.
“I guess I’m still worried,” he said.
“I’d like to stay here awhile.” “The community’s been amazing and people have been super super great.”
If you want to donate to Ismail, visit his GoFundMe.