#RaisetheFlagForSarah pays tribute to Egyptian LGBT activist Sarah Hegazy, found dead in Toronto

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      LGBT communities, human-rights activists, and others around the world are in mourning after a 30-year-old Egyptian lesbian activist was reported to have been found dead.

      Sara Hegazy (also spelled Hegazi or Higazy), who was a founding member of the Bread and Freedom socialist party in Egypt, had been living in exile in Canada since 2018.

      She was reported to have been found dead at her apartment in Toronto on June 14 and is believed to have killed herself.

      In October 2017, she raised the rainbow flag at a concert in Egypt featuring the alternative rock band Mashrou’ Leila, whose Lebanese-American lead singer, Hamed Sinno, is openly gay and advocates for queer rights and equality.

      At that concert, Egyptian security forces arrested Hegazy and several others who also raised the rainbow flag.

      She was charged with "promoting sexual deviancy and debauchery” and she spent three months in jail before she was released on bail.

      She moved to Toronto and sought asylum in Canada. However, she suffered from posttraumatic stress disorder following mistreatment and physical assault in prison, and she also struggled with depression.

      After her death, activists around the world paid tribute to her on social media with the hashtag #RaisetheFlagForSarah.

      Canada’s Spring magazine, published by the Spring Socialist Network, ran a tribute to her on June 14.

      If you or someone you know is experiencing depressive or suicidal thoughts, some options for resources include talking to a healthcare professional, such as a doctor, psychologist, or counsellor. If in crisis, contact 911 or go to a hospital immediately. 

      The Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Centre of B.C. offers 24-hour phone and online distress services (as well as community education). The Crisis Line Association of B.C. (1-800-784-2433) provides 24-hour service for individuals across the province.

      Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868) is a national service for children and teenagers.

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