Archive for the ‘Maryam Namazie’ Category

No Pope, No Vatican – London for a Secular Europe

Oppose Pope Benedict’s State Visit to the UK

Stop the Vatican’s crusade against women’s and gay rights

London – 10 February 2010

Protest the Pope

This Sunday 14 February 2010
Meet at 1pm outside Westminster Cathedral (not Westminster Abbey).

Victoria Street, London SW1 (near the corner with Ambrosden Avenue)

March to the Italian Embassy in Grosvenor Square for a rally at 3pm.

We support:
· Women’s equality and reproductive rights
· Equal rights for LGBT people
· A secular Europe – immune to the Vatican’s agenda
· One law for all, no religious exemptions from the law
· State neutrality in matters of religion and belief

We oppose:
· European Union collusion with religion (Lisbon Treaty Article 16c)
· The special status of the Vatican in the United Nations
· State-funded faith schools
· The economic privilege and political influence of the Vatican in Italy
· Taxpayers funding the Pope’s State Visit to the UK this September
· Misogyny, homophobia, fascism, racism and xenophobia

Protest against the Pope’s State Visit to the UK

“We want a secular Europe, where the Vatican and the Catholic church cease attempting to impose their harsh, intolerant morality on everyone else,” said Peter Tatchell of OutRage!, who is speaking at Sunday’s protest and assisting with its organisation.

“The Pope opposes women’s rights, gay equality, embryonic stem cell research, death with dignity and the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV.

“He wants the Catholic Church to be exempt from equality and anti-discrimination laws that apply to everyone else.

“Pope Benedict played a key role in the cover-up of child sex abuse by Catholic clergy.

“He has rehabilitated the Holocaust-denying bishop Richard Williamson, and even though Pope Pius XII failed to speak out against the Holocaust he plans to make him a saint.

“Given that he opposes universal equality and human rights, Pope Benedict should not be accorded the honour of a State Visit to Britain.

“The estimated £20 million cost of the visit will be funded by the taxpayer. The Pope has already denounced our equality laws. He is likely to abuse his presence in Britain to further attack our democratically-agreed legislation that gives equal rights to women and gay people.

“The Pope has discouraged the use of condoms in countries where HIV infections are decimating whole populations. Such teachings are irresponsible and immoral,” said Mr Tatchell.

Sunday’s demonstration is organised by the Central London Humanist Group in partnership with the British Humanist Association, the National Secular Society, One Law for All, the Gay And Lesbian Humanist Association, the Rationalist Association and OutRage!.

It is in solidarity with the demonstration happening the same weekend in Rome, also against the Vatican and its reactionary interference in Italian, European and world-wide politics.

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=415005340443
http://www.meetup.com/Central-London-Humanists/calendar/12192702/

Program of the demonstration:

– Assemble: 1pm at Westminster Cathedral (not the Abbey)
– March: 2pm – 3pm from Westminster Cathedral to the Italian embassy
– Rally: 3pm – 5pm at the Italian embassy (Grosvenor square)

Speakers at the Italian embassy (3pm) :

* Bob Churchill (British Humanist Association),
* Derek Lennard (Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association)
* Maryam Namazie (One Law for All)
* Gerard Phillips (Protest The Pope)
* David Pollock (European Humanist Federation)
* Terry Sanderson (National Secular Society)
* Peter Tatchell (OutRage!)
* Josh Kutchinsky (Central London Humanist Group)

WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE VATICAN

Protest organiser, Marco Tranchino, writes:

The tiny Vatican State is inhabited mainly by priests. It is extremely powerful and its “moral” crusades adversely affect the lives of millions of people in Europe and across the world.

Officially part of the UN, its “observer-state” status means it can access, influence and pressure UN debates on issues such as birth control, abortion and homosexuality. No other religion has such privileged UN status.

The Vatican has diplomatic relationships with almost all the countries in the world (174 when John Paul II died) and in many EU countries it benefits from the support of Catholic politicians and, in many cases, of Christian political parties.

Of the 27 countries of the European Union, 14 are bound to the Vatican by at least one treaty. No other faith has such political power in Europe and the world; prompting the Economist to publish an investigation about the diplomatic service of the Vatican, questioning whether it deserves its special status in the UN (21 July 2007)

The Catholic Church is an extremely profitable business. It owns businesses such as hotels, restaurants, shops and private schools and the Vatican pays no tax! On top of this, the Vatican receives public money in many countries: in Italy about 1000 million Euros in taxes paid to the Vatican every year (991 millions € in 2007 ).

Through its very considerable political, diplomatic and economic power, the Vatican adversely impacts on the lives of European citizens, and the wider humanity.

THE POPE’S OPPOSITION TO WOMEN’S & LGBT RIGHTS

The issue of women’s rights and the Catholic Church goes way beyond the hierarchy of the church, where women are unable to ascend to priesthood as a result of their gender. Women who have had a divorce, women who want to have an abortion and women who are living as single parents in Catholic countries are often victims of moral intimidation and discrimination. The Pope encourages us to view women as unequal to men, by consistently and publicly stating that the two genders are different and that women are naturally inclined to be mothers and child-carers. In some Catholic countries, like Ireland and Poland, abortion is illegal. In others, like Italy, the right to an abortion is constantly under threat from the Vatican’s pressure on the government.

The Pope says that being gay is an “objective disorder” and a “moral evil”. In nearly half the countries in the world, homosexuality is totally illegal and punishable by long terms of imprisonment. A proposal for the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality was opposed by the Vatican in the UN in 2008. It has a long history of blocking attempted UN debates on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) human rights; often refusing to condemn homophobia and opposing laws to protect LGBT people against discrimination.

RELIGIOUS POWER IN THE UK

Although Britain is a fairly “secular” society, Christianity still has considerable influence in many British institutions and it continues to enjoy unfair privileges.

A limited right to abortion has been granted to women living in England, Scotland and Wales, but in Northern Ireland it remains illegal. This anomaly is significantly due to religious influence, including that of the Catholic Church. Christian lobbies are engaged in continual efforts to restrict a woman’s right to abortion and have succeeded in reducing the time limits for an abortion.

Religion retains undue influence and power in various ways. With increasing numbers of state funded faith schools (1 in 3 of all schools in the UK is either Catholic or Church of England), religious institutions continue to exercise an influence on many young people.

The churches (especially the Catholic church) made sure that the proposed EU Constitution – and the now approved Lisbon Treaty (article 16c) – dangerously commits the European Union to “an open, transparent and regular dialogue with Churches and religious organisations”. Why should religious bodies receive this special treaty guarantee, which is denied to humanists and human rights advocates?

WE DEMAND A SECULAR EUROPE

The state should be neutral in matters of religion or belief.
No faith should have privileged legal or social status, or special access to government
The beliefs of one group should not be used to limit the rights of others.
We affirm the common values of the people of Europe as expressed in the Brussels Declaration.

https://www.iheu.org/v4e/html/the_declaration.html

We want to protect democracy and to champion human rights against those who seek to retain undemocratic influence and deny equality and protection against discrimination to others.

Further information:

Peter Tatchell, OutRage!

Protest coordinator: Marco Tranchino – marco.tranchino@gmail.com

ENDS

Peter Tatchell

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No Sharia rally in London
Oppose all religious laws & courts

Call for secularism & universal human rights

London – 21 November 2009

Muslims, ex-Muslims and non-Muslims joined forces in London to protest against Sharia and against all religious laws and courts.

The themes of the protest were “one law for all” and “universal human rights.”

Expressing solidarity with Muslims resisting the “inequalities and inhumanities” of Sharia law, the protesters affirmed their commitment to democracy, secularism, equality and human rights.

The rally took place in Hyde Park today, Saturday 21 November 2009

Among those addressing the crowds were speakers from Iran, Iraq, Bangladesh and the UK. They expressed solidarity with Muslim communities worldwide and condemned racist, anti-Muslim far right and fascist groups.

“Sharia law is a form of religious dogma and tyranny. It is homophobic, sexist and anti-democratic. It persecutes LGBT Muslims. Same-sex acts carry the death penalty in several Islamic states. Gay people can be stoned to death or hanged in countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran. We support LGBT Muslims – and all Muslims – who are fighting for their freedom,” said Peter Tatchell of the LGBT human rights group OutRage! and Green Party parliamentary candidate for Oxford East.

“This protest supports secular democracy. Secularism is often confused with anti-clericalism. The two are not the same. Secularism is not against religion per se. It is against giving religion privileged status, rights and protections.

“We believe there should be a separation of religion from the state. No faith should dominate any government and seek to impose its creed on the rest of society. When this happens, freedom of expression is diminished and minority faiths are victimised.

“For these reasons, secularism is not only an important element of freedom of expression. It is also the best guarantee of religious freedom, as it prevents any one faith becoming politically dominant and abusing its powers to oppress people of other faiths,” Mr Tatchell added.

Lib Dem MP Evan Harris condemned the government for “caving in to religious pressure.” He cited the way Britain’s equality laws allow religious bodies to discriminate against LGBT people and people in certain circumstances. Mr Harris also condemned the government for giving privileged advisory status on policy and legislation to often unrepresentative faith leaders.

Roy Brown of the International Humanist and Ethical Union warned that over 50 Islamic states, with the support of many developing countries, are currently “demanding that the United Nations outlaw the defamation of religion.” This would restrict free speech by criminalising criticism and condemnation of religious beliefs and institutions, he said.

A speaker from Iraq, Issam Shukri, told the rally how Islamist militias linked to the cleric and MP Muqtada al-Sadr had executed dozens of women who they deemed to be improperly dressed because were not fully covered head-to-toe. These militias have also organised death squad executions of LGBT Iraqis.

Maryan Namazie, the rally organiser, told the crowd:

“Our rally is being held to mark Universal Children’s Day and the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. We are not defending western values. We are defending universal humanitarian values. Sharia adversely affects the rights, lives and freedoms of countless human beings across the world. Opposing Sharia law is a crucial step in defending universal equal rights and secularism, and showing real solidarity with people living under and resisting Sharia.”

Philosopher AC Grayling warned that Sharia law was an attack on precious, hard-won, civil liberties. It was a threat to freedom of speech, freedom of belief and freedom of conscience, he said.

Rahila Gupta from Southall Black Sisters highlighted the way religion and cultural tradition are often anti-women and homophobic. She urged solidarity with women resisting patriarchal clericalism and demanded equal rights for women, whatever their cultural, ethnic or religious background.

Excerpts from Peter Tatchell’s speech at the Hyde Park rally:

“We are here to defend Muslim people – and all people everywhere – who are victims of religious tyranny.

“We support the many victims of Sharia law, especially the Muslim women who are campaigning for equality. We cannot accept the way Islamic states, including western allies like Saudi Arabia, restrict women’s freedom of movement, make women subject to the control of male guardians, deny women access to certain jobs and positions in government and enforce the compulsory veiling of women with the hijab, niqab, jilbab or burqa.

“We stand in opposition to all religious laws in Britain and worldwide.

“We express our support for the many courageous, inspiring Muslims who are campaigning against the inequalities and inhumanities of Sharia law, often at great risk to their liberty and life.

“Contrary to the way our critics are trying to misrepresent our rally, this is not an attack on Muslims or Islam. We are here to support Muslims who are resisting Sharia law.

“We defend Muslims and people of all faiths against hatred and discrimination. The victimisation of people because of their religious beliefs is just as wrong as victimising people because of their race, gender or sexuality.

“In a democracy, everyone should be subject to the same laws, with the same rights and responsibilties. Religious rulings should not influence the laws or courts in any way.

“We believe that Muslims and all peoples worldwide should have rights, freedoms and choices, in accordance with the principles of equality and non-discrimination that are enshrined in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These are not western values. They are international humanitarian values, agreed by the global consensus of the member states of the UN.

“It is wrong to tolerate the denial of human rights to non-white Muslims in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, when most of us would never tolerate the denial of these rights to white (and non-white) people in Britain.

“There should be no double standards. No moral or cultural relativism. Defend universal human rights. One law for all,” said Mr Tatchell.

For further information and photos, contact Maryam Namazie onelawforall@gmail.com

Web: www.onelawforall.org.uk

Peter Tatchell