Support group raising money for shunned gay South Asian International student

A support group for LGBTQ South Asians is fundraising to help a 21-year-old international student who was recently kicked out of his home and cut off financially by his family because of his sexual orientation.

Sher Vancouver says 21-year-old ostracized by family in India and Canada for being gay

Alex Sangha is the founder of Sher Vancouver - a support group for gay South Asians in Metro Vancouver. He's fundraising to help an international student from India who was recently kicked out of his family's home because of his sexual orientation. (Alex Sangha)

A support group for LGBTQ South Asians is fundraising to help a 21-year-old student from India who was recently kicked out of his home and cut off financially by his family because of his sexual orientation.

"They have sent a very strong message — that they are not willing to accept a gay child," said Sher Vancouver Founder Alex Sangha.

"I felt really sorry for him — he didn't choose to be gay and everyone is making his life miserable."

The young man — whose identity is not being made public because he fears for his safety — is on a student visa. 

"His father was sending money to relatives in Surrey. When they found out he was gay, they cut him off and the family kicked him out," said Sangha.

"Because he's on a student visa, he got caught in the gap. He doesn't qualify for any services — you have to support yourself when you're on a student visa." 

Sangha has launched online fundraising to help support the student. 

"What we want to do is finish his two semesters in school. We're fundraising for his tuition, we're fundraising for his immigration application,we're asking for $3500 from the public."

Attitudes changing 

Sangha said Sher Vancouver receives about 20-25 emails a month asking for information or referrals for support services.

He says attitudes among South Asians towards homosexuality have changed over the years. 

"It's really getting better," said Sangha.

"I don't want to stigmatise or stereotype the whole South Asian community because over the last 8 years [there's been a lot of progress]."

The young man is currently staying with a member of the Sher community until more permanent housing can be found.

"We've had other immigrants contact us [in the past] but they've always had some resources that they could go to — whether it was an immigrant agency or a settlement agency...in this case this person is 21. He has no money, he has no options. He has no one."

Sangha said the organization is trying to help find the young man a part time job as he studies computer science at a local Metro Vancouver college. 

About the Author

Bal Brach

@BalBrach

Bal Brach is an award-winning reporter at CBC News Vancouver. She has more than a decade of experience working in television, radio and online news across Canada. Bal's storytelling skills have earned her a Jack Webster Award. She is also the recipient of regional and national Radio Television Digital News Association awards. Bal can be reached at Bal.Brach@cbc.ca or on social media @BalBrach