Arab LGBTQ community dedicates Pride month to Sarah Hijazi, marking her first death anniversary
A group of lesbian activists in Egypt and Tunisia launched their first MENA Lesbian and Queer Women’s Pride Day in Sarah's honour on Saturday to raise awareness for the plight of women who identify with the LGBTQ+ in the Arab world.
"Sarah has written a new history of lesbians and queers in the Arab world. Despite the pain and sadness that you left, many of us have come out in support to reveal and appear as she did and would have wanted us to do," the group said.
Hegazi made international headlines in 2017 when she was arrested for raising a rainbow flag at the Lebanese band Mashrou' Leila's concert in Egypt. After three months of torture in an Egyptian prison, she was freed in January 2018, seeking asylum soon afterwards in Canada.
Her mental health in Canada continued to deteriorate, which eventually led to her tragic death, which her lawyer confirm as suicide.
Days later, a page called Pride for Sarah Hegazi was set up to honour her life and recognising her death coincided with pride month.
This year, Hegazi's friends and supporters paid tribute to her through the page by sharing art work, videos and activist tributes.
"She was fine, she was beautiful, she was innocent, she was smart, she was kind, friendly, helpful and brave, they were evil to her and called her sick, then they killed her with their cruelty and called her a suicide," one tribute said.
Other Arabs and LGBTQ+ Muslims paid tribute to her. An anonymous French Muslim woman who converted to Islam and has an Arab Muslim wife submitted a tribute, which spoke of dealing with homophobia and Islamophobia in the European republic.
Homosexuality is not expressly outlawed in Egypt, but gay people have previously been charged with debauchery in the deeply conservative Muslim society.
In 2017, authorities banned media outlets from "showing homosexuals or promoting their slogans".