When gay hate can tear your world apart

Reporter: Karen Doherty
Date published: 23 February 2016

THE consequences of homophobia were laid bare when campaigner Matthew Ogston visited Hathershaw College.

His world fell apart in 2014 when his partner of 13 years, Nazim Mahmood, jumped to his death from the balcony of their London flat after coming out to his family.

The pair were engaged and planning to marry - but their relationship and Nazim’s sexuality was unacceptable to his culturally conservative Muslim family.

“My happiness, my reason to live, was taken away from me,” explains Matthew in a film he showed to pupils as part of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) history month.

“This happened because a family believed being gay is a sin, being gay was a choice, having a gay son was not acceptable to their family and not bringing shame on the family was more important than unconditional love.”

Nazim, a GP who ran several clinics and also worked in A&E, admitted he was gay when he was asked by his mother. She told him to seek a cure. Two days later he killed himself.

Prevented from attending the funeral in Birmingham, Matthew and Nazim’s friends held their own service in Hampstead Cemetery, London.

Matthew then completed a walk between the two to raise awareness of homophobia triggered by culture and religion. He has also set up the Naz&Matt Foundation to provide support.

“Our mission is to never let religion, any religion, come between the unconditional love between a parent and their child,” he explained.

He told pupils people shouldn’t have to chose between their sexuality and religion, love and religion.

“Every one of you has a choice,: he told the gathering. ”You can go back to class, you can forget about what I have talked about, forget about Naz and turn a blind eye if you see someone being bullied.

“But if you do choose to ignore everything you have heard, then sadly more people like Naz will take their own life.”