Sarah Hegazy | (dot)gender
(dot)gender | A space by LORENA STELLA MARTINI
The month of June, celebrated worldwide as Pride Month, is also dedicated to make an assessment of the status and recognition of LGBTQ+ rights around the world. This year, Pride Month has been characterized by a dramatic even which is extremely telling of the dire conditions that LGBTQ+ communities still have to endure in some countries. After having been arrested, tortured and targeted with social hatred in her own country, the Egyptian leftist and queer activist Sarah Hegazy committed suicide on June 14th.
The young woman was arrested in 2017 with charges of “joining an illegal group and inciting to debauchery” after having waved a rainbow flag during the Cairo concert of the Lebanese Band Mashrou’ Leila, well known around the Arab world for its progressive and LGBTQ+ friendly attitude. Her arrest was part of the governmental crackdown against the LGBTQ+ community that followed this concert.
After three months of jail, where she endured torture and ill treatment, Sarah was finally released on bail and sought refuge in Canada in 2018, where she continued her activism. Two years later she took her own life, unable to deal with the violence and suffering she had been victim of.
Her gesture invites all of us to reflect upon the extreme discrimination and injustice people are still enduring in several countries because of their sexual orientation; while in some countries homosexuality is still criminalized, in others such as Egypt neither homosexuality nor transsexuality are clearly outlawed, yet people are forcibly detained with charges related to their gender identity and/or their sexual orientation, just as Sara was.
Her death is also a reminder of the severe repression that is practiced by the Egyptian government against all those who to different degrees speak up for their rights, freedom and identity.
Patrick Zaky, the Egyptian activist, human rights researcher and student of the University of Bologna who was suddenly arrested while returning to its home country to visit his family, has been under pre-trial detention in Egypt since the month of March under charges of incitement to violence and terrorism and calling for protests through the social media. Many others share his same condition.
Here are some interesting articles about Sarah Hegazy and the situation of LGBTQ+ community in Egypt: