Gay Man Facing Deportation to Malaysia Because He Doesn’t Have a Boyfriend

He fears he will be arrested or attacked if he is forced to return to his home country, where homosexuality is illegal.

A gay man is facing deportation from the U.K. back to Malaysia, where consensual same-sex activity is punishable by up to 14 years in prison. The government does not believe he is gay, because he has never had a boyfriend.

Yew Fook Sam, also known as Sam, fears for his safety if he is made to return to his home country. The 67-year-old said he doesn’t have a boyfriend because he only came out two years ago, after finding acceptance at St Bride’s Church, where he is part of an LGBTQ worship group called Open Table.

Sam came to England in 2005 on a visit visa, and was arrested in 2016 for working illegally. He was detained for 10 months in an immigration center, and was later moved to a Home Office accommodation in Liverpool, followed by another one in Kirkby, where he currently resides.

He told The Liverpool Echo he lived his life in the closet in Malaysia, marrying a woman, with whom he fathered two children. She divorced him in 1988, upon discovering he was gay, and took the kids to the United States.

“I tried to tell the Home Office, ’I am 67. I don’t need sex,'” Sam told the newspaper.

“I have been photographed on (Pride) marches here and I would be in danger of being arrested—and attacked by members of the public. I fear I could be killed if I had to go back.”

Last year, two women were caned in Malaysia for allegedly having sex in a car. The government also has a history of supporting so-called conversion therapy for LGBTQ people, which Sam worries he could be forced to undergo if made to return to the country.

In a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, published in 2013, 86% of Malaysians said they do not accept homosexuality. Last year, a major Malaysian newspaper published a checklist on how to spot gays and lesbians.

Sam has exhausted his appeal options, and is required to check in with immigration officials every two weeks, and reports fearing he could be arrested at any one of these meetings.

Open Table network coordinator Kieran Bohan called Sam “an active and valued member of our community, attending both morning and evening services on Sundays when his health and finances allow.”

“At Liverpool Pride in 2018, he walked with the Christians At Pride group alongside the Anglican Bishop of Liverpool, Paul Bayes,” Bohan added.

“There are many people in later life who find themselves single, whatever their orientation. They do not cease to be gay, bisexual or straight because they do not have a partner.”

Bohan is supporting Sam in his attempts to get an asylum claim, The Guardian reports.

“This is an argument we will likely make for the fresh asylum claim, that it is a western cultural assumption that you have to be sexually active in order to have a healthy sexuality,” he said.

A Change.org petition calling on the government to allow Sam to stay in the country has, at time of writing, garnered over 1,500 signatures.

“This government has a proud record of providing protection for asylum seekers fleeing persecution because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and the U.K. remains a world leader in its approach to handling this type of asylum claim,” the Home Office said in a statement, adding it does not comment on individual cases.

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