MARIA JIMENA RICO and Shaza Ismail, the two girls who were held in the Middle East over to their sexuality, have led Torremolinos’ Gay Pride parade.
The event, which was also attended by Dana International; the first transsexual winner of Eurovision, highlights equality. The girls were chosen to lead the parade because their sexuality “almost cost them their freedom.”
The young couple who were imprisoned in Turkey after fleeing homophobic oppression in Dubai, have also recently met with Albert Rivera, leader of the political party, Ciudadanos, to discuss women’s equality.
The girls say they spoke with the senior politician as a “first step” towards highlighting the “struggle” for equality amongst the LGBT community “in many countries”.
The women, who are 28 and 22, became embroiled in an internationally-covered ordeal after flying to Dubai to visit Shaza’s mother, who was supposedly sick. Once there, however, it became clear Miss Ismail’s Egyptian father wanted her to face trial for her sexuality, which is punishable by death in Dubai.
The couple fled to Georgia, where the man ambushed them and tore up their travel documents. Police intervened and took the girls to the Turkish border, where they crossed over. Turkish police soon intercepted them though, and imprisoned them on suspicion of terrorism without access to legal advice or phones.
The Spanish Government became involved when Ms Rico’s family reported her missing after receiving voicemail saying she feared for her life. The authorities tracked the girls to a prison in Istanbul and quickly secured their release.
The couple, who say they are “shattered” by their experience, are now engaged, planning on getting a dog, and have both been offered positions at the Funky Buddha Beach, a club in Marbella.
They have continued to share details of their ordeal, however, which they say involved being “spat at” and questioned about their sex-life by police in Turkey. The couple say they now want to highlight persecution of homosexuality.