Gay, atheist U of W international student afraid to go home to Malaysia
An international student studying psychology at the University of Winnipeg is afraid he could face persecution if he is forced to go home to Malaysia.
Hazim Ismail says he is openly gay and an atheist. He was trying to keep that information from his immediate family but says he was outed by a cousin on social media.
Homosexuality is a criminal offence in Malaysia, he said. And his family, who is Muslim, have disowned him and stopped paying for his education in Canada.
Ismail is afraid he could be a target if he is forced to return home. He says he could be beaten and even jailed.
He has started a GoFundMe campaign to try and stay here. He admits it's awkward asking people he doesn't know for money.
"It feels weird. It's like an open wound. It's nice when people message me about supportive things. But gut-wrenching when they have an apathetic response," he said.
"I don't want to lose my international student status. I am only allowed to be here as a student. So if I can't pay my tuition, I could be deported," said Ismail.
Ismail has spoken out before about racism in Winnipeg, after a magazine dubbed the city the most racist in Canada.
So far Ismail has managed to raise more than $4,000 of the $5,000 he needs to pay for his tuition and living expenses.
Ismail says he has other issues he is trying to cope with as well. He was recently diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. He says he was at a crisis centre multiple times for attempted suicide. He says the whole experience has left him battling anxiety.