New Zealand: A gay man granted refugee status in New Zealand after a tough life in the Maldives has won the Miss Capital Drag pageant.
Abraham Naim’s alter ego Medulla Oblongata wore a black veil to highlight the oppression gay people face in Muslim society in the competition on June 1 night.
“It has validated my entire life. Everything I’ve worked for and fought hard for has been worth it,” he tells GayNZ.com Daily News.
Growing up in the staunchly Muslim Maldives he was bullied for being different, but moved to New Zealand to study as a teenager and found himself as a gay man and drag queen, even becoming a New Zealand AIDS Foundation Safe Sex Poster Boy.
Naim became a gay rights campaigner, and was ultimately outed to his politician father in a threatening letter. When he ended up back in the Maldives he carefully continued his work for gay rights, but his situation became unsafe as he received death threats. With the help of friends he sought asylum in New Zealand where he was eventually granted refugee status last year.
Maldives is a staunchly Muslim island state southwest of India and here people more than 99 per cent Muslim and where same-sex relations is strictly prohibited. It uses Sharia law to penalize same-sex relations with death, whippings, house arrest, deportation, and up to six years in jail. Gender identity and expression other than that of one’s birth is also illegal.
Maldives is notorious for vigilante attacks and executions against the LGBT community.