Zoella Zayce (19) currently lives in a basement apartment in Vancouver while waiting for a decision on her asylum application. She claims asylum in Canada because she says that Brunei is not safe for LGBT + people. For years she knew that she would have to flee the country because of its archaic laws.
Zayce fled Brunei at the end of last year because she was afraid of her conservative family and that they would find out more about her gender identity. She never told them she was transgender, but said her family suspected she was gay. She said she was "traumatized" when her family brought her to a clergyman who performed "cleansing" or "exorcism" on her when she was just 11 years old.
Earlier this month, Brunei introduced new sharia laws that punish gay sex and adultery by stoning, but the country was a dangerous place for LGBT + people even before the laws were implemented.
She chose Canada as her destination because it was far away from Brunei and she felt that her family was less inclined to follow her and find her there. Zayce also praised Canada for its openness to refugees. "Justin Trudeau greatly accepted people who fled their country, so that was one of the most important things," she said. "I just want to let the world know that if I am indeed sent back to Brunei, I don't mind dying there. If I went back, I would at least have lived a good life ... on my own terms"
Zayce expects to hear the result of her asylum application in November and meanwhile she works full-time in the Canadian city of Vancouver.