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Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Mosque in homophobia row

There's a bit of a row going on in London over a mosque that's said to keep breaking its promises when it says it won't host homophobic speakers.

Gay campaigners, including Peter Tatchell, are raging about it; Andrew Gilligan in the Telegraph is raging about it, and the mosque says other groups, such as Christians, are anti-gay, too.

You can read all about it here.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Wilders acquitted

“Far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders has been acquitted by a court in Amsterdam where he was on trial for inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims,” reports the Muslim TV outlet Al Jazeera.

His statements, said the judge, were “rude and condescending”, but didn’t amount to criminal activity.

Wilders was hauled before the court for “inciting hatred”. So now, perhaps, it will be possible to speak objectively about religious ideologies without attracting the touchy-feely brigade.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Gay bishops? No problem! But …

It’s the old, old story. We don’t mind – well some of us don’t mind – if you’re gay, but . . .

Yes, there’s always bullshit before the but, isn’t there?

In this case, it’s the possibility that the good ol’ Church of England may allow gay clergy to become bishops. But there’s a catch.

And the catch is . . .? You’ve guessed it.

You can’t have nookie.

Once again, men in frocks seem to think they know the mind of God – even know that there is a God – and pronounce on what other men in frocks should do with their wiggly things.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

UK gay humanists welcome new UN resolution on sexual orientation

The UK gay humanist charity – and this blog’s owner – the Pink Triangle Trust has warmly welcomed the passing by the UN Human Rights Council of a resolution concerning sexual orientation.

It expressed “grave concern at acts of violence and discrimination, in all regions of the world, committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity”. It also established a formal UN process to document human-rights abuses against gays, including discriminatory laws and acts of violence. It was passed by a narrow majority of 23 to 19, with 3 abstentions.

Nigeria claimed the resolution went against the wishes of most Africans. Mauritania called the resolution “an attempt to replace the natural rights of a human being with an unnatural right”. Speaking on behalf of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, Pakistan’s envoy to the UN in Geneva said: “I am seriously concerned at the attempt to introduce to the United Nations some notions that have no legal foundation.”

Commenting on the resolution the PTT secretary and my fellow blogger George Broadhead said: “This marks a major step forward in the worldwide campaign for LGBT rights. Congratulations are due to South Africa for proposing it and the twenty-three nations who voted for it.

“It is highly significant, however, that the main opposition to the resolution came from African counties like Nigeria and Uganda, in which religious-based homophobia is rife and Muslim countries like Bangladesh, Bahrain, Djibouti, Jordan, Maldives, Malaysia, Mauritania, Pakistan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

“This is reminiscent of the staunch opposition of Muslim states to the repeated attempts made by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association to be granted NGO consultative status at the UN, and clearly demonstrates the serious obstacle that Islam puts in the way of LGBT rights.”

Saturday, 18 June 2011

How to adopt a homophobe

My fellow blogger Stuart Hartill of Clinging to a Rock has passed on a nifty idea for Father’s Day, which is tomorrow. He was one of the recipients of an emailed request from John Becker of the US organisation Truth Wins Out (“Fighting anti-gay lies and the ex-gay myth”) about “adopting” a homophobic religious leader by making a donation to TWO in his (yes, it will usually be “his”) name.

“A few years ago,” writes Becker, “Father sat me down for the talk. ‘John,’ he said, ‘your voice is beautiful. Even so, it would be inappropriate to have you sing at the Cathedral anymore. I’ve been informed that you’re married to a man, and so your continued presence in this church would cause a scandal.’

Married to a man? Utterly disgusting! Becker continues:

Not the talk I expected from Father. “Father,” of course, was how this particular anti-LGBT religious leader preferred to be addressed, and many still call him “father” today. As we approach Father’s Day, I’m thinking about this man, and about many others who promote religion-based bigotry against LGBT people while purporting to call themselves spiritual “fathers”.

For example, this week as momentum in New York surged toward the passage of the Marriage Equality Act, Archbishop Timothy Dolan compared allowing same-sex couples the freedom to marry with North Korean-style Communist dictatorship. Minneapolis-St. Paul Archbishop John Nienstedt used his bully pulpit last week to endorse a proposed anti-gay amendment that would write marriage discrimination into Minnesota’s constitution, throwing the scientifically-discredited “kids do best with a mother and a father” meme into the mix for good measure. And it’s not just Catholic “fathers” who engage in this type of spiritual violence – evangelical preacher Damon Thompson, who claims on his website that he “fathers spiritual sons and daughters”, spews disgustingly vile anti-gay hate speech, all in the name of Jesus.

I’ve got a challenge for you: this Father’s Day, “adopt” an anti-LGBT religious leader by making a tax-deductible donation of any amount, in his honor, to Truth Wins Out. After you donate, email me at with his name and location, and I’ll send an email to your adopted Pop to let him know about the thoughtful gift you made on his behalf to fight anti-LGBT religious extremism. (You can even make your donation anonymous!) It’s a surefire way to bring a Father’s Day smile to Pop’s face.

What a good idea! You could extend it, of course, by simply doing it yourself if you fancied donating to, say, a UK organisation. Just make the donation and write to the bigot in question and say, “You’ll be dead chuffed to know that I’ve made a donation in your name to Gays R Us” (or whatever).

Talking of Father’s Day, sorry, Dad. I sent you a card the other day and forgot to put a stamp on the envelope.

Poor Mr Armitage, somewhere in the Northwest of England, will be facing a surcharge.

Oops! I’m in for a bollocking.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Atheist Nexus

In case you haven’t heard of it, why not give Atheist Nexus a try? I joined it a year or so ago and find it full of interesting material. Rather than explain what it’s about (although the name is a clue), I’ll quote directly from the newsletter of its founder, Richard Haynes, which I received over the weekend.

It has been more than a year since I wrote to you about the organizational progress of Atheist Nexus. This was primarily due to my waiting for our previously discussed projects to be fulfilled. I am happy to report that many of our goals have been accomplished, but we have barely scratched the surface.

Where We Stand

As I write this, we have nearly 23,000 active members. On top of that, there are a few hundred thousand individuals who visit Atheist Nexus regularly who have not joined. We are also more diverse than ever before. We have hundreds of members in all 50 United States and member representation in every country of the world. Our subgroups now total 850+. These include numerous “official” groups for local and international organizations.

Most of this has been accomplished by you sharing Nexus with your friends. Other than that, we have a couple part-time volunteers and me as the sole staff member. Thanks to a handful of advertisers and a group of small donors, we have been able to keep afloat. I have paid most of the financial obligations myself, and I have no complaint in doing so. However, we have reached a plateau, and for us to go further, we must expand our horizons.

Our Mission

From the very beginning, our vision has been to be much more than simply a “Facebook” for nonbelievers. To be honest, social networking sites are a dime a dozen. They easily come and go. Some do things better, some worse. Our success in becoming the world’s largest community of nontheists has been our strict adherence to our mission.

The first part of our mission has been to make Atheist Nexus a resource to empower nonbelievers to “come out” of their nontheist closets. In my travels you have humbled me with your powerful stories. Many of you have found the courage and strength to be honest with your families through Atheist Nexus, and the new friends you have met have provided ongoing comfort and support.

None of this has happened in a vacuum either. Many media outlets have taken notice and featured Atheist Nexus and our members. Stories have been reported in: the New York Times, USA Today, NPR, CNN, Fox News Radio, Wired, and a handful of books. I am contacted almost daily by reporters asking to speak to members from a particular area.

The second part of our mission is the most crucial. My assertion has always been that Atheist Nexus would be useless if it did not provide a stepping stone for members to get involved in local communities and national organizations. In the beginning I was surprised that many of the “newer” atheists were not aware of the great groups that existed.

So far, we have had tremendous success. Many national leaders have told me their membership numbers, and attendance at their conventions, have increased because of Atheist Nexus. Also, many local groups (some quite large) have been formed by individuals who met on our site. I know of two weddings between members who met on Nexus, and I was told by one individual that they lost their virginity because of us. (I’m not sure, but that might make a great billboard)

I cannot give much detail, but during the recent uprisings in Africa and the Middle East, I was fortunate enough to assist our members in these countries to communicate and coordinate their activities with each other. If nothing else, this has made the whole Nexus experience worth it.

Where Do We Go From Here?

I have faith (pun intended) most of you are proud of what has been accomplished. And while not perfect, I think most of you would agree the usability of the Atheist Nexus website has improved greatly. We have planned many more improvements, but they cannot be accomplished without your help.

He then goes on to tell you how you can help the site improve and thrive, and you can go to its “Chip-in” account to donate.

Find Atheist Nexus here.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Oh, gay marriage is so evil

"A secret recording has emerged on YouTube in which Missouri congresswoman Vicky Hartzler is seen comparing gay marriage to incest, paedophilia and allowing three-year-olds to drive," Pink News reports.

One day someone'll do a survey on just how many ways prejudice against gays can be dressed up. And it's not all religionists – indeed, some of whom are really rather OK – but it often is. And it is so in this case: she's an evangelical.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Are all atheists humanists? Nope!

We don't often get articles looking at atheism that is not also humanism. The words "humanist" and "atheist" seem to go hand in hand these days. Not all atheists are humanists, however, and it's a standpoint worth exploring.

Start with Giles Fraser in this Guardian article.