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Watch: Omar Sharif Jnr. discusses being gay on Arabic TV

By Will Stroude

In what’s being heralded as an important breakthrough for LGBT visibility in the Middle East, Omar Sharif Jnr. has discussed his sexuality and LGBT activism in an extensive interview on Egyptian television.

The grandson of Oscar-nominated Laurence of Arabia star and Egyptian screen legend Omar Sharif appeared on Arabic news program Shabab Talk, where he told presenter Jaafar Abdul Karim that he was a human being and “not a moral or an ethical debate”.

omar sharif

Discussing what his grandfather – who passed away earlier this month at the age of 83 after battling Alzheimer’s disease – and the rest of his family made of his sexuality, Sharif said: “I think the best thing that I could do in life is to live openly and authentically and happily, and if I’m doing that, I know I’m making them happy because that’s all they would want for me.”

“They would want me to be happy. That’s what grandparents should want for their grandchildren.”

The 32-year-old actor went on to discuss his new film The Secret Scripture, as well as his work with LGBT visibility group GLAAD and what his appearance could do to educate the Egyptian public about LGBT issues.

“If I could give one [lesson], is to be open enough to be who you are,” he said. “Don’t pay attention to the conversation happening around you. Pay attention to the conversation happening in your heart and in your head because that’s the only thing you can control.”

He went on: “I’m a son, I’m a brother, I’m a coworker, I’m a friend,” he said. “I’m not a fact, or a figure, or a statistic. I’m not a moral or an ethical debate.”

While same-sex sexual activity is not technically illegal in Egypt, the government has recently embarked on a vicious crackdown on the country’s LGBT community, raiding bathhouses and arresting gay men on wider charges of ‘debauchery’.

Speaking to Out about the appearance, Sharif said: “I’m so thrilled that the topics of religion, sexuality, and politics were covered respectfully.

“I’d give kudos to the journalist who asked the questions, because it’s a stark contrast from journalists like Mona Al Iraki who orchestrated the bathhouse raid and the sensationalised headlines.”

Watch an excerpt from the interview below:

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