One of Egypt’s leading young actresses has given an outspoken interview in which she calls for the rights of sexual minorities in her homeland to be respected.
Mona Hala, who has appeared in films including Cairo Time, Zaky Chan and The Baby Doll Night, gave the interview on 19 April to Egyptian television channel ON TV but the footage has only appeared online this month.
In it she asks why it is necessary that the government includes her gender on her identity cards.
‘I have never classified myself as a “woman.” Quite the opposite,’ Hala says in the interview.
‘As far as I’m concerned they should delete that field from our ID cards … Why shouldn’t I be treated as a human being? Why does my sex have to be recorded? Why does the government have to know it? Why is it so important whether you are male or female?’
In response her interviewer asks what she would think would happen if a man went about dressed as a woman if gender was not recorded on ID cards.
‘Don’t you think it would be better if we knew what his gender is? … Somebody might be a homosexual’ he asks
‘He is free to be one,’ Hala replies, ‘It is not my place to pass moral judgement on people. It’s none of my business.’
‘Homosexuality has existed since ancient times. Many people throughout history have been like that, so who are we to judge them? Alexander the Great who built Alexandria was homosexual. Is that a reason to destroy Alexandria or to change its name?’
Hala also touched on the suggestion that gay and lesbian tourists should be prevented from visiting Egypt or should be deported if they were discovered in the country.
‘I am opposed to discrimination against any human being, whether on the basis of skin color, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. Anything,’ she said.
‘It is the same as if, after the [Charlie Hebdo attack] in France by Muslim terrorists, they had prevented all Muslims from entering France. It’s not fair … It’s the same as preventing all homosexuals from entering Egypt.’
‘Let’s say that someone [is in a same-sex relationship] in his country and he wants to come to Egypt to see the antiquities and so on – what right to you have to prevent him from doing so? I don’t get it.
The footage was uncovered by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) who shared the video on their YouTube channel.