June 24, 2020 / 6:14 PM / a month ago

Egyptian actor's trans son sued for Instagram post about LGBT+ activist's suicide

CAIRO, June 24 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The transgender son of one of Egypt’s most famous actors is being sued for promoting homosexuality among young people after posting on Instagram in support of an LGBT+ activist who died by suicide earlier this month.

Two Egyptian lawyers filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against Noor Hesham Selim, son of film and television star Hesham Selim, after he posted a video on Instagram in response to the death of exiled Egyptian activist Sarah Hegazy.

“It is a conspiracy against Egypt to give up on our culture and morals and let homosexuality spread among young people,” Ayman Mahfouz, one of the two lawyers who filed the lawsuit, told Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone on Wednesday.

“Strict action” should be taken against people who seek to destroy Egyptian values and religious beliefs, Mahfouz added.

While homosexuality is not outlawed in Egypt, it is a conservative Muslim society and discrimination against LGBT+ groups is rife, with gay and trans people facing instances of assault and torture, according to Human Rights Watch.

Selim, 26, was thrown into the spotlight last month when his father surprised television viewers by speaking openly about his transition in the hope it would help change social attitudes towards trans people in Egypt.

Selim’s support for Hegazy, who was found dead in her apartment in Canada, where she sought asylum in 2018 after being jailed in Egypt for waving a rainbow flag at a pop concert, has triggered further upset among conservatives.

Selim, who was not immediately available for comment, made a second post on Tuesday saying that he was in poor mental health and the online criticism of Hegazy made him feel even lonelier.

Hegazy, 30, had been struggling with depression before her death, according to her lawyer.

“Where is the mercy?” Selim asked.

Reda Eldanoubki, a lawyer and human rights activist with the Women’s Center for Guidance and Legal Awareness, said the case might actually play in favour of Egypt’s LGBT+ community.

“Such lack of tolerance and acceptance usually backfires, and it is not in the interest of the whole society,” he said.

Reporting by Menna A. Farouk @MennaFarouk91; Editing by Katy Migiro and Hugo Greenhalgh. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit news.trust.org

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