A Malaysian student whose family reported him missing after he stopped contacting them three years ago has been found after pictures of his civil partnership ceremony in Ireland circulated the internet.

Ariff Alfian Rosli went to Ireland to study medicine in 2003, but his family say he stopped responding to their attempts to contact him in 2008, Asia One reports.

With funding from the Malaysian oil and gas company Petronas, Ariff had been a student at University College Dublin.

When he broke contact with them, his parents filed missing person reports in their home country and in Ireland, travelling across the world eight times to try to find him.

But it was not until the official photographs of Ariff’s union with another man were posted online that his parents found out where he was. They have since written calling on Ariff to return to Malaysia.

Ireland passed civil partnership legislation for the first time last year.

The first civil partnerships took place in January of this year, more than a month earlier than the planned introduction of the ceremonies.

Normal time frames were waived in that case due to the ill health of one of the parties.