A University of Winnipeg student from Malaysia will be allowed to stay in Canada.
Hazim Ismail is gay, which is illegal in his home country. He is also an atheist, which is not illegal but is certainly frowned upon in the Muslim nation.
At a deportation hearing today in Winnipeg, Ismail was granted refugee status.
A story about him setting up a GoFundMe page made it’s way to Malaysia and he was outed in the media, against his will.
Ismail applied for refugee status because he was worried about his safety if we was forced to go home.
“Just last year the Malaysian prime minister compared the LGBT community to ISIS,” Ismail said. “I would probably be arrested. I don’t know what happens beyond that. They’re basically on an arresting spree right now with anybody that they don’t like.”
Throughout the process leading up to the hearing, Ismail says it was a troubling time, and it didn’t help that his family is not on his side.
“They disowned me and cut off my funding for me being out. They cut off communications. I have a little brother and I can’t talk to him or Skype with him or anything anymore. I hope that they’ll come around, but probably not anytime soon.”
Ismail came to Canada just over three years ago to study psychology at uWinnipeg. He would like to do it back home, but he says the practice in Malaysia is based out of religious dogma.
“If you go to them and say, ‘Hey, I’m gay, I’m having a conflict with my identity,’ they’re going to refer you to a rehabilitation centre to ‘correct you.’ That’s not a place where I wanted to pursue psychology, but I would love to get change rolling with how psychology is rolled out there.”
He said he has had trouble sleeping for some time and wanted to get the whole process over with.