While Omar Sharif Jr. considers himself as “one of the lucky ones,” having been born into a wealthy and famous family, he was still forced to leave his native Egypt when he came out as gay in 2012. Since coming to America, the actor and activist has used this position to be beacon for LGBT people in the Middle East who are still unable to come out.
When we caught up with him at last night’s Attitude Awards supported by Virgin Holidays, where he won our 2016 Inspiration Award, Omar wanted to remind the world that Islamophobic intolerance that fuels anti-refugee sentiments has a profound affect on those who are trying to escape anti-LGBT hatred.
“We need to not demonise people,” he told us. A lot of the refugees who are fleeing [the Middle East] are LGBT and they’re fleeing intolerance and persecution. They’re fleeing for their lives. And so we need to be more welcoming to refugees, and not falsely correlate all Islam with terrorism.”
“We’re more than just facts and figures, moral and ethical debates. We’re brothers and sisters, neighbours.”
Read more about all the winners from the Attitude Awards 2016, presented in association with Virgin Holidays, in our special November issue, which comes with six different covers featuring some of the night’s biggest winners.
It’s available to download now from pocketmags.com/attitude and available in shops from Wednesday (October 12). You can order the cover of your choice from 10am on Tuesday (October 11) at newsstand.co.uk.