India’s entrant to Mr Gay World (MGW) has withdrawn from the competition and gone into hiding after his family received threats.
Alarm bells were raised Sunday (19 April) when Thahir Mohammed Sayyed, 28, and his family could not be found at their home in Kochi and Kottayam, and all references to MGW were deleted from his Facebook page.
His nomination sparked outrage among the region’s close-knit Muslim community last week when the MGW poster was released on social media.
Sayyed’s family was prevented from praying at the local mosque and threatened with ostracism if he did not bow out of the competition and atone.
The part-time model and fashion design post-grad Monday announced that he had withdrawn from the contest, which will take place in South Africa in less than a fortnight.
‘I hope the organizers appreciate the difficulties I faced. I cannot take this pressure,’ he told dna magazine.
Sayyed said it would be ‘unfair for me to drag [his family] into any trouble’ but refused to comment on any ongoing pressure from his community.
‘Talking about this will only worsen things,’ he said.
MGW’s director in Africa and Middle East Atty Coenie Kukkuk said he had received several inquiries from South African media about Sayyed and his family’s safety.
‘India has been very active in this competition, we really wanted him to share his story with all through MGW 2015,’ he said.
‘It’s really sad that his family has been threatened. Sayyed’s withdrawal is 100% understandable. We wish him strength and safety in this situation.’
It is too late to find a replacement for Sayyed so India will no longer be represented at this year’s competition.