Sara Hegazy, a bold Egyptian LGBTQI+ rights activist, lived in a society where the members of her community, their bodies and lives often face lethal prejudice. The roots of Sara’s resistance were in the deconstruction of a dominant, oppressive and patriarchal system, and its anti-rights actors.
"[In Egypt], every person who is not male, Muslim, Sunni, straight, and a supporter of the system, is rejected, repressed, stigmatized, arrested, exiled, or killed. This matter is related to the patriarchal system as a whole, since the state cannot practice its repression against citizens without a pre-existing oppression since childhood." - Sara Hegazy wrote on March 6, 2020
The suppression of Sara’s voice by the Egyptian government reached its violent peak in 2017, when she was arrested for raising a rainbow flag at the Mashrou’ Leila (Lebanese band whose lead vocalist is openly gay) concert in Cairo. What followed were charges of joining an illegal group along with “promoting sexual deviancy and debauchery”.
"It was an act of support and solidarity — not only with the [Mashrou' Leila] vocalist but for everyone who is oppressed...We were proud to hold the flag. We wouldn't have imagined the reaction of society and the Egyptian state. For them, I was a criminal — someone who was seeking to destroy the moral structure of society." - Sara Hegazy
Sara was jailed for three months, where she was tortured and sexually assaulted. In January 2018, after being released on bail, she sought asylum in Canada where she was safe but imprisoned by the memories of the abuse and violence her body and soul had gone through.
"I left this experience after three months with a very intense, serious case of PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder]. Prison killed me. It destroyed me." - Sara Hegazy told NPR
Sara took her own life on 14 June 2020, leaving a handwritten note in Arabic:
“To my siblings – I tried to find redemption and failed, forgive me.”
“To my friends – the experience [journey] was harsh and I am too weak to resist it, forgive me.
“To the world – you were cruel to a great extent, but I forgive.”
Her legacy and courage will be carried forward by those who love her and believe in what she fought for.
“To Sarah: Rest, just rest, spared from this relentless violence, this state-powered lethal patriarchy. In rage, in grief, in exhaustion, we resist.” - Rasha Younes, an LGBT rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. Read the complete text