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  • Zayce​​​​​​​ says that her family forced her to participate in a exorcism-type ritual performed by a cleric.

    Zayce​​​​​​​ says that her family forced her to participate in a exorcism-type ritual performed by a cleric. | Photo: Reuters

Published 18 April 2019

The young woman has been in Canada since late 2018, and has applied for asylum.

Zoella Zayce, a nineteen-year-old transgender woman from Brunei, is seeking asylum in Canada after her home country recently added provisions to the penal code that threaten the lives of LGBTQ citizens. 

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The young woman has been in Canada since late 2018 and has applied for asylum. Zayce continues to wait for the result of her application. The teen disclosed that she chose to travel to Canada because of the distance from Brunei, hoping that it would be too much of an expense for anyone to attempt retrieving her.

While Zayce​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ acknowledges the threat of being sent back, she says she "wouldn't mind dying back there, because... living [in Canada for] a year is much better than living all my life back in Brunei."

The transgender woman also cites Canada's history of accepting those who have fled their countries as another reason for the decision to make the move there.

In Brunei, a country with Islamic laws that punishes homosexual sex, with death by stoning and whipping, Zayce says that she could end up being reported to the authorities if her sexuality is deemed questionable.

The United Nations has classified Brunei's recently implemented provisions as a human rights violation.

Zayce​​​​​​​ says she was aware of her gender identity from a young age, and that her family forced her to participate in a ritual performed by a cleric, which she describes as similar to an exorcism. 

The woman describes her family as conservative, which is unsurprising in a country that has a 67% Muslim population. While the penal code provisions are aligned with Sharia law, many of the legislation still apply to the country's non-Muslim citizens, which includes Christians and Buddhists. 

Zayce stated that, even without Sharia law in place, the people of Brunei would try to "lynch you, and do their own justice."

"I knew I had to leave very soon," Zayce stated.​​​​​​​

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