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The Bearded Belly Dancer Fighting LGBT Abuse In Egypt

Belly Dancing in Drag Is This Queer Woman's Form of Protest

Gender-nonconforming dance is just one form of protest for Shrouk El-Attar, who puts her life on the line for LGBT asylum seekers like herself.

On a chilly March night, Shrouk El-Attar is preparing for a belly dancing show at a London club; she pulls on a shimmering blue skirt, fixes a sparkly bra - and sticks on a beard.

The act, called "Dancing Queer", is a protest against the persecution of gay, lesbian and transgender people in El-Attar's native Egypt where they risk violence, arrest and jail.

Through her performances, El-Attar raises money to pay legal fees for LGBT people in Egypt and relocate those who fear family violence because of their sexuality.

But the vivacious electrical engineering student wears many hats. Hours before the show - which she has performed around the country - El-Attar donned a suit and tie to speak at Britain's parliament about issues faced by refugees.

The 25-year-old, who is completing her masters at Cardiff University in Wales, has helped many asylum seekers access higher education in Britain - something she is passionate about after spending several "heartbreaking" years unable to study.

Her efforts were recognised this month when the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR named her its Young Woman of the Year for her "inspirational leadership".

Read the full interview by the Thomson Reuters Foundation: Belly dancer dons beard to protest LGBT abuse in Egypt

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Ashley Jiang