The mural on

The mural on Mohamed Mahmoud street in Cairo, which was the site of clashes between police and protesters, has been changed to evoke a more pro-diversity message. (via Leil Zahra Mortada)

Global Voices is reporting on a new social media hashtag that is demonstrating that pro-LGBT proponents in Egypt are not afraid to speak out. The hashtag #ضد_رهاب_المثلية (Against homophobia) has been generating conversation between LGBT supporters and opponents, but its very existence points to a broadening of Egyptian debate on the topic of LGBT rights.

There are other signs that things for LGBT people are changing in the most populous Arabic-speaking country in the world, including the culture jamming of an anti-gay mural on Mohamed Mahmoud Street in Cairo, which took a swing at the city’s cops calling them gay. The mural was soon transformed using a pro-diversity message that warns people that “Homophobia Is Not Revolutionary.” Leila Zara Mortada, who

Leil Zahra Mortada, who shared the before and after photos of the mural on Facebook, told Hyperallergic she spotted the mural in Jan/Feb 2013. With her Facebook posting, she included this message (in Arabic, and translated by Global Voices):

You won’t believe how much the regime that we all fight against is based on patriarchal idea that hates gays like you. We all don’t want to curse the regime only but also burn it down but don’t use women, lesbians and gays, sex workers, belly dancers, because it’s sexual discrimination and it’s not revolutionary. This is an insult to your revolutionary comrades that stand with you in the face of a murderous regime. This is called chauvinistic lowness and backward thinking. The same mentality that we want to change and build a better society in its place. The same thinking that kills us.

There’s still a long way to go towards LGBT equality in Egypt, but any step forward is a positive sign.

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic.