An Egyptian LGBT activist was found dead in her home in Canada where she had been living in exile since 2018.
Sara Hegazy, 30, committed suicide on Sunday after leaving behind a note asking her family and friends to forgive her.More: Turkish students, lecturer on trial for banned LGBT march Northwestern in Qatar cancels Mashrou' Leila talk after backlash Coronavirus exacerbates LGBT refugees' isolation and trauma
"To my siblings - I tried to find redemption and failed, forgive me," Hegazy's handwritten letter said. "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."
Hegazy rose to prominence after raising the LGBT rainbow flag at a concert in Egypt in October 2017. The band playing was Mashrou' Leila, whose lead singer Hamed Sinno is openly gay and known for advocating for queer rights.
Hegazy was among dozens arrested by Egyptian security forces following orders from the public prosecutor to investigate others who raised the rainbow flag at the same concert.
She was charged with "promoting sexual deviancy and debauchery". Another law student, Ahmed Alaa, was also arrested and charged with "joining a group formed in contrary to the law".
Hegazy spent three months in prison before she was released on bail. However, she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) caused by the humiliation and mistreatment she faced during her imprisonment, which resulted in a failed suicide attempt. She eventually sought asylum in Canada.
Activists paid tribute to Hegazy on social media, with some using the hashtag #RaiseTheFlagForSarah.
I still remember when this photo surfaced, and how powerful it was. #SaraHegazy rest in power hbb 💜 crying and listening to @mashrou3leila for you today pic.twitter.com/WKcULxc7P7— Bianca Nozaki-Nasser (@lifewithBianca) June 14, 2020
amazing egyptian queer activist Sarah Hegazy has claimed her own life today. She was in exile after she got imprisoned in 2017 for her ferocious, courageous queer activism. this is too heartbreaking.— n.o. (@naderandrawos) June 14, 2020
"To the world, you were very cruel, but I forgive" she wrote. Rest in power #SaraHegazy #سارة_حجازي 🖤✌🏼🌈 pic.twitter.com/NICbue1C6y— Nadeen Haidar (@nadeenhaidar) June 14, 2020
Sara Hegazy, an Egyptian activist who was jailed and tortured after she raised a rainbow #Pride flag at infamous @Mashrou3Leila 2017 concert in Egypt, has committed suicide in Canada where she was living in asylum. Absolutely devastating & tragic. Rest in power, Sara. #سارة_حجازي pic.twitter.com/297EnGbKJS— Wirjil (@Wirjil) June 14, 2020
Although homosexuality is not specifically outlawed in Egypt, it is a conservative society and discrimination is rife. Gay men are frequently arrested and typically charged with debauchery, immorality or blasphemy.
Those arrested are subjected to anal examinations to determine whether they have had gay sex, which rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch say amount to torture.