Malaysian gay man gets death threats after support video

Mustafa Ali (R), Fadzil Noor (C) and Mahfuz Omar (L). UPALI ATURUGIRI/AFP/Getty Images

A Malaysian Muslim man who spoke out about being gay has received death threats and says he fears for his life.

Azwan Ismail, a 32-year-old engineer, made a YouTube video called ‘I’m gay, I’m ok’, in an effort to encourage other gay Malaysians to feel comfortable with their sexual orientation.

His video clip was part of a series posted by Malaysian activists and was inspired by the US It Gets Better project, in which LGBT people speak frankly about their own experiences growing up.

Mr Ismail told Associated Press that he was scared he was about to be killed and that his life had been threatened.

He was the only Muslim to take part in the project. Homosexuality is illegal in Malaysia but offences are not usually harshly punished.

He said: “My intention was not to insult Islam. I just wanted to represent gay Malays in this project. I hope these videos will help to create a more open society and more discussion.”

In the video, which has been viewed more than 140,000 times on YouTube in just six days, Mr Ismail talked about his faith and his sexuality.

One prominent Islamic cleric criticised him for “derid[ing] his own dignity”, while Malaysia’s Cabinet minister for Islamic affairs, Jamil Khir Baharom, said action may be taken to prevent more people viewing the video.

Mr Ismail said he was now taking safety precautions in response to the threats.