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Taiwan in an ‘Island of hope’ for LGBTI rights, says Egyptian activist

Taiwan in an ‘Island of hope’ for LGBTI rights, says Egyptian activist

Egyptian LGBTI rights activist Omar Sharif Jr.

Egyptian LGBTI activist Omar Sharif Jr. has praised Taiwan as an ‘Island of hope’.

Speaking at this year’s Oslo Freedom Forum (OFF) in Taipei on Saturday (10 November), the LGBTI rights activist spoke of Taiwan’s move towards legalizing same-sex marriage.

‘The tide of tolerance is inevitable, I look to you, to Taiwan,’ Sharif told the forum attendees. ‘Now I stand in an island of hope, Taiwan has the opportunity to prove love always conquers hate.’

Sharif stressed to the audience that the legalization of same-sex marriage would be beneficial to the country. ‘Marriage equality only makes for a stronger country, marriage strengthens family, and make for a stronger Taiwan,’ he said.

Sharif, who is the grandson of iconic film star Omar Sharif, also spoke of his own experiences as a gay Egyptian man.

He said that after coming out in 2012 he received death threats, and has not returned to his home country since, Taiwan News reported.

‘My story is just one out of many millions but it does not make it small. One victory at a time, Taiwan first,’ Sharif concluded.

Ongoing fight for same-sex marriage

Sharif was one of a number of speakers at this year’s OFF.

The international forum aims to raise awareness of repressive countries around the world, and has been running since 2009.

This year’s attendees included Vladimir Kara-Murza, a Russian democracy activist who criticized the dictatorship of Vladimir Putin, and Megha Rajagopalan, an American reporter for Buzzfeed News, who spoke of the surveillance and mass incarceration of ethnic Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in northwest China.

Sharif’s praise for Taiwan comes amid the debate surrounding same-sex marriage.

The country is preparing to vote in a referendum on whether to legalise same-sex marriage.

This follows last year’s decision by the Constitutional Court, which ruled that restricting marriage between a man and a woman was unconstitutional.

Taiwan is largely considered to be the most LGBTI friendly in Asia.

The capital city hosted Asia’s biggest Pride festival, Taipei Pride, in late October. Over 117,000 people were in attendance at this year’s event.

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