Ariff (right) is seen during a civil marriage ceremony with his partner.
A Malaysian who reportedly married his Irish lover in a same-sex civil union has said he would fear for his safety if he were to return home.
The Irish Times reported 28-year-old Ariff Alfian Rosli as saying he had never wanted to create any trouble or controversy, and that the reason why he could not return home to work was because of perceived attitudes towards same-sex relationships here.
“Returning home under the current situation is untenable... as I fear for my safety there,” Ariff told The Irish Times. “My thoughts are with my family and friends in Malaysia. I never wanted this to become a major news story.”
The controversy erupted after pictures taken at Ariff Alfian Rosli’s same-sex civil union surfaced on the internet last week, three years after the University College Dublin medical student was reported missing by his family.
In the photos, the 28-year-old could be seen wearing a black baju Melayu with kain samping while his partner — known only as Jonathan — wore a black tuxedo and green tie.
Local criticism of the same-sex union has been swift and harsh, with mainly Muslim users attacking Ariff Alfian on Twitter for straying from Islam and dishonouring his family.
Muslim groups have also been quick to condemn Ariff Alfian, with the Kepong Islamic Youth Organisation (PBIK) lodging a police report yesterday over his alleged failure to adhere to Malaysia’s Islamic laws.
Other critics have taken a different tack, preferring instead to “rehabilitate” what they saw as a Muslim who had strayed far from the teachings of Islam.
This includes the Facebook group, “The Campaign to Bring Ariff Alfian Rosli Home to Malaysia to Save His Faith”, which was set up on Saturday.
The campaign’s description of its goal reads: “As Malaysians, Malays and Muslims, other than condemning and cursing, we also have the alternative to support Ariff Alfian’s return to Malaysia so his faith can be restored to the true and noble path.”
The Prime Minister’s Office has also pledged to investigate the matter, and an Umno official is expected to arrive in Dublin later this week to convince Ariff Alfian to return home.
Petronas, which stopped sponsoring Ariff Alfian in 2009, is reportedly demanding repayment for the RM890,000 it paid for his education in Ireland.
But Ariff insisted he has been in regular contact with Petronas representatives over the repayment of his college tuition.
“I want to continue to engage with Petronas in a private capacity, as I have been doing. I have no intention of running away from this responsibility or shrugging it off my shoulder.”