Pride & Shame in Toronto & London

Islamophilia Infests LGBT Pride Marches

2017-07-20, updated 2017-07-22

A report of how pro-Islamist groups have attempted to censor criticism of Islamic homophobia at two recent LGBT pride marches.

Sommaire en français Comment plusieurs groupes pro-Islamist ont essayé de faire taire la critique de l’homophobie islamique lors de deux récents défilés de la fierté LGBT.

Recently two pride marches — in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and in London, England — have been marred by attempts to censor legitimate criticism of Islam, Islamism and Islamic homophobia.


At the Toronto event on June 25th, a contingent of Iranian gays and other sexual minorities marched to protest the extreme homophobia of the brutal regime which rules their home country. However, they were almost prevented from doing so by a group of so-called “anti-fascists” as can be seen in the video Leftists call Muslim refugees islamophobic at Toronto Pride. I am not sure what group it was, as Antifa Toronto claims that they were not involved. At any rate, as Maryam Namazie reports:

[…] some ‘anti-fascists’ surrounded Iranian refugees and LGBTQ activists and absurdly chanted ‘No Hate at Pride’ – as if defending LGBTQ people in Iran or countries under Islamic rule is ‘hateful’.

Police intervention ensured that they weren’t able to stop the Iranians from joining Pride as the video below shows.

The irony of “anti-fascist” activists accusing an Iranian holding a sign saying “I am Muslim and condemn the persecution of LGBTQ+ in Islamic countries” of “Islamophobia” was clearly lost on them. It’s just another example of how criticism of Islamism or even Islam is conflated with bigotry against Muslims at the expense of dissenters and to the advantage of Islamists.

Source: In Toronto LGBT Iranians were branded as ‘Islamophobes’

This incident is yet another clear example, as if one were needed, of how use of the censorious accusation of “Islamophobia” enables Islamofascism by making it even more difficult to criticize the excesses of political Islam and Islamist theocracies. In particular this harms the people who are already in a difficult position: gays, other sexual minorities, apostates, etc. who are persecuted by Islam.

Last year (2016) Toronto Pride was disrupted by the organization Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesting the presence of police in the march. BLM activists were successful in forcing Pride organizers to ban police participation, so this year a contingent of Toronto police went all the way to New York City to march in their gay pride parade!

When I was very actively involved in the gay movement back in the 1970s (we quaintly called it “Gay Liberation” in those days), even the thought of police actually participating in our march would have been preposterous. The police were there on duty, only for basic security and control, certainly not as participants. Relations between gays and the police were very strained indeed because the police were often very homophobic and barely tolerated our existence. But times have changed greatly since then.

The 2016 incident with BLM may appear unrelated to this year’s attempt to block Iranian refugees and LGBTQ activists. But the two incidents are indeed related. (1) Firstly, if one consults the list of demands on the web site of BLM-Toronto, we see that the demand “END ISLAMOPHOBIA & WHITE SUPREMACY” features prominently. That statement is extremely problematic for two reasons: it declares “Islamophobia” to be something one should fight against, which is nonsense, because there is nothing irrational or objectionable about fearing a dangerous religion such as Islam (or Christianity, or several others). Even worse, the statement lumps “white supremacy” — which indeed is a very dangerous and reprehensible form of racism — in with it. Such an inconsistent and ridiculous demand shows that whoever prepared the list is not even clear about what racism is, because a religion has nothing to do with race. How can we support an ostensibly anti-racist organization which is so evidently incompetent? (2) Secondly, Toronto police were involved in both incidents.

When so-called “anti-racist” and “anti-fascist” groups take actions which are more regressive than those of the police, then it is time for the leaders and members of those groups to undertake some serious reflection.

In both incidents, a group denouncing “Islamophobia” and thus showing its affinity with the regressive pro-Islamist “left” disrupted or attempted to disrupt the event. In both incidents, Toronto police took a position which was ironically more progressive than that of either BLM or the “antifas.” In the first incident police wanted to march for gay rights but were prevented. In the second they intervened and allowed the Iranians to march for gay rights. When so-called “anti-racist” and “anti-fascist” groups take actions which are more regressive than those of the police, then it is time for the leaders and members of those groups to undertake some serious reflection.


Meanwhile, across the pond in London, events transpired which somewhat resembled those in Toronto two weeks earlier. The group Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain marched in the July 8th Pride parade carrying banners with slogans such as “ALLAH IS GAY,” “FUCK ISLAMIC HOMOPHOBIA,” and my personal favourite “WE’RE HERE, WE’RE KAFFIR, GET USED TO IT.” (The term “kaffir” or “kafir” means a non-Muslim or an apostate of Islam.) It was a great success, as can be seen in the video The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) participates in Pride and in the report on the CEMB web site. CEMB’s participation was not blocked, although “police initially tried to remove placards with the slogan ‘Allah is Gay’ because of complaints of ‘offence’.”

More negative reactions came quickly in the aftermath of the march. The East London Mosque was so upset that it filed a formal complaint with Pride festival organizers. They of course denounced CEMB’s participation as “Islamophobic” and they criticized placards naming the Mosque as promoting homophobia. And they were particularly irate about the “ALLAH IS GAY” slogan.

Now, the slogan “Allah is gay” is of course meaningless, because Allah is a fictional character. It is like saying, “Superman likes blueberries” or “Thor is left-handed.” Nevertheless, it is a very useful slogan because it exposes homophobia. Indeed, the very fact that the East London Mosque was so offended by it means that they are homophobic, because they consider that calling their god gay is shameful. But in reality, it is the other way around. It is insulting to gays to be associated with such a distasteful character as Allah. But we know he is fictional, so we are not offended. And even if he were real, that would not justify censorship of the slogan.

The mosque accused CEMB of inciting hatred of Muslims, which of course they were not at all doing. CEMB was simply denouncing homophobia — and sometimes very violent and even deadly homophobia — based on Islam and enforced by theocratic regimes. As Maryam Namazie, speaking for CEMB in an email, declared:

the very reason CEMB was at Pride was to combat hate and to highlight the 13 states under Islamic rule that kill gay men (14 if we include Daesh-held territories). We included placards on the East London mosque to bring attention to the fact that there are mosques here in Britain that promote the death penalty for homosexuality and apostasy.

As ex-Muslims, we are at risk from hate preachers that speak at some mosques and universities; our gay members are at an increased risk.

The East London Mosque has a long history of hosting hate preachers who incite against blasphemers, apostates and homosexuals so we felt naming and shaming them was very apt.

Unfortunately, Pride organizers have so far reacted badly, denouncing CEMB. In the words of a spokesperson:

“All volunteers, staff and parade groups agree that Pride celebrates diversity and will not tolerate any discrimination of any kind. While our parade has always been a home to protest, which often means conflicting points of view, Pride must always be a movement of acceptance, diversity and unity. We will not tolerate Islamophobia.”

Evidently, the organizers do not accept a diversity of opinion and have bought into the dishonest propaganda of those who use accusations of “Islamophobia” as a form of bullying to silence legitimate criticism of Islamic ideology.

But CEMB has fought back rapidly, declaring that ‘They are trying to silence us’. Speaking for CEMB, Maryam Namazie said:

“Why are signs critical of Islam (a belief) and Islamism (a far-right political movement) ‘anti-Muslim’?” Muslims are people, with as many different opinions as anyone else. They are not a homogeneous group but individuals. Some will agree with us, others won’t. In fact, several Muslims visiting from Bangladesh joined us. The incredible support we received from minorities in the crowd cheering us on is a reflection of that. Not everyone was offended. And offence can never be a reason to censor and silence dissent.”

“[…] the climate we live in where bullies and homophobes are rewarded and victims blamed.”

As for the East London Mosque:

“The fact that […] their complaint is taken seriously by Pride speaks volumes about the climate we live in where bullies and homophobes are rewarded and victims blamed. The real problem for them is that we are ex-Muslims. We are not allowed to speak or show ourselves or challenge views that degrade and denigrate us.”

Apostasy is a Human Right!

Bravo to the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and to Iranian and other Muslim refugees who support LGBT rights! And shame on all those who attempt to silence criticism of Islam or Islamism! Freedom for Muslim gays and other sexual minorities and freedom for ex-Muslims whose only “crime” is to exercise their freedom of conscience!

Next blog: Quebec’s Right to Self-Determination

Words to Cultivate

Some Useful Vocabulary for Atheists, Freethinkers and other Critics of Religion

2016-05-04, Updated 2016-08-04

A list of terms which, I would suggest, could and should be used regularly—wherever they are appropriate of course—by atheists, freethinkers and critics of religion in general. Some of these expressions are neologisms, i. e. recently coined, while others are not new but have been under-utilised.

Sommaire en français Une petite liste de termes — à l’intention des athées, des libres penseurs et des critiques de religions en général — que je suggère pour usage courant. Quelques-uns sont des néologismes, c’est-à-dire récemment inventés, tandis que d’autres sont des termes existants mais sous-utilisés actuellement.

the irrational fear of atheism or of atheists. The suffix -phobia is indeed appropriate here because this fear is clearly unfounded and irrational, being based on the religious myth that one must believe in a fictional daddy-cop-dictator in the sky in order to behave ethically. (Contrast this with the dubious term Islamophobia which must be avoided for several reasons, in particular because fearing Islam is not necessarily irrational.) See also moralistic creationism below. This prejudice is extremely widespread. See: definition of atheophobia and Atheophobia, A Prejudice Thousands of Years Old.
basically a synonym of “religious belief.” Examples: — According to Christian mythology, Jesus was the son of “God.” — According to Muslim mythology, Mohammed was the last prophet of “God.”
ethno-religious determinism
the true meaning of the extremely loaded word “multiculturalism” (which long ago used to mean “cultural diversity” but has since evolved into a very tendentious—and anti-secular—ideology). Approximate synonym: religious essentialism
freedom of conscience
this includes both freedom of religion and freedom FROM religion (which in turn includes the freedom of apostasy, i.e. the freedom to leave a religion), as well as freedom of opinion and of thought. Freedom of conscience is fundamental, while the other freedoms are necessary consequences of it.
freedom of apostasy
a necessary consequence of freedom of conscience. If you do not recognise the right to apostasy, i.e. the right to leave a religion, then you are a religious bigot. There is neither freedom of religion nor freedom of conscience without the right to apostatize.
Belief in belief. Examples: — the silly idea that religious beliefs should be respected. — the essentialist notion (closely related to “multiculturalism”) that religious affiliation is somehow innate and immutable. See: definition of metabelief.
moralistic creationism
The belief that morality comes from “God,” whatever the hell that is. Moralistic creationism is the basis of classic atheophobia. See The Moralistic Foundations of Creationism and Theism As Hate Propaganda.
Attitude of unthinking, uncritical deference towards the religion of Islam, thus affording it preferential treatment compared to other religions such as Christianity.
A near-synonym of “Islamophilia” but stronger. Literally, the attitude of idolizing or worshipping Islam.
false obligation
Religious obligations are always false, that is, not in fact obligations, because any religious behaviour—such as attendance at religious events or wearing religious symbols or clothing—is either freely chosen, thus not obligatory, or imposed (i.e. coerced) by other humans, thus a form of abuse. A combination of the two situations is of course possible. See The Myth of Religious Obligations. Example: A woman who wears the niqab is either doing it freely, by choice, of her own free will, or she is being coerced by her relatives or community to do so (and is thus a victim of abuse because she is denied her freedom of conscience), or some combination of the two.

Next blog: Dubious Words

Apostasy is a Human Right

The criminalization of apostasy is the religious equivalent of rape.


The right to leave a religion, i.e. apostasy, is a necessary aspect of freedom of conscience. To deny a person that right, i.e. to force them to accept a system of beliefs and practises against their will, is analogous to forcing them to submit to sexual acts against their will. Furthermore, the denial of the right to apostasy is closely related to the essentialism underlying multiculturalism and the myth of religious obligations.

Sommaire en français Le droit de quitter une religion, c’est-à-dire d’apostasier, est un aspect incontournable de la liberté de conscience. Refuser ce droit en forçant un individu à accepter un système de croyances et de pratiques, contre la volonté de cet individu, est analogue à une obligation de se soumettre involontairement à des actes sexuels. De plus, la dénégation du droit d’apostasier est étroitement liée à la mentalité essentialiste qui soutient le multiculturalisme et le mythe de l’obligation religieuse.

Imagine that someone makes you a proposition. But, you are told, the only acceptable response you may give is “Yes.” You may be allowed your choice of several ways of saying “Yes,” but you must pick one of them because a response of “No” is simply unacceptable. Or, in a slight variant of this game, you have apparently said “Yes” at some time in the past — perhaps recently, but maybe in the distant past, perhaps even when you were a child too young to understand the proposition to which you were responding. In any case, you no longer have any choice, you may not say “No.”

I am sure that you would be upset, probably extremely upset, at being put in such a predicament, especially if the proposition were an unpleasant one.

If the proposition in question were of a sexual nature, this is called rape. You would be the target of a sexual proposition to which you would be forced to submit.

Now consider this: although there are varying opinions on the matter, according to Islamic doctrine, apostasy, i.e. the conscious abandonment of Islam by a Muslim, is a sin, in general a crime, and often a capital crime. In fact, according to a 2013 study by the Pew Research Center, millions of Muslims are of the opinion that apostasy should be punishable by death. This means that if a Muslim person—either one born into that religion or who converted to it—should begin to question his or her faith, i.e. if they find themselves faced with the proposition “Do you wish to remain a Muslim?” then only an affirmative answer can save them from being considered at least a sinner and probably a criminal, and quite possibly a criminal deserving of death. A response of “No” is not an option.

So again, if the proposition is sexual, it is called rape. But if the proposition is religious, and if that religion is Islam, then we normally have a complete and absolute denial of freedom of conscience. There are of course secular Muslims who take a more flexible approach, but they are not in the mainstream of Islamic doctrine and theology. Furthermore, there may exist other religions which have such severe and draconian rules about apostasy, but I am unaware of them. If such religions exist, they must be far less important demographically than Islam.

[…] if a Muslim cleric or spokesperson asserts freedom of religion but fails to repudiate the Islamic condemnation of apostasy, then they are hypocritical; the so-called “freedom of religion” which they claim for Muslims is completely vacuous and worthless.

We thus see that mainstream Islam is utterly incompatible with freedom of conscience, which includes both freedom of religion and freedom FROM religion, and the latter implies the freedom to apostatize if one so chooses. Therefore, if a Muslim cleric or spokesperson asserts freedom of religion but fails to repudiate the Islamic condemnation of apostasy, then they are hypocritical; the so-called “freedom of religion” which they claim for Muslims is completely vacuous and worthless.

In both sexual and religious contexts, if one is not allowed to say “No” then any response of “Yes” becomes meaningless.

The Islamic condemnation of apostasy has implications for religion in general. Indeed it influences attitudes—even attitudes held by non-believers—towards religious affiliation. The reprobation of apostasy is complementary to the idea that religious belief and religious affiliation are in some way essential to the identity of the individual believer, as if that affiliation were immutable. This essentialist point of view is of course completely false: there is nothing innate or immutable about religion. The religion to which one belongs, if any, is in general completely determined by the milieu in which one is raised as a child; i.e. it is the result of the indoctrination of children, except for those few who convert as adults. (Here I am excluding forced conversions which are commonplace during the expansion of a religion by wars of conquest.) Religious affiliation has nothing to do with genetics or race. Even sexual orientation, which is subject to some flexibility and fluidity, is far more innate than religion.

Those Muslims who oppose apostasy so vehemently also exaggerate the importance of religious affiliation to the identity of the individual, and this strategy is self-serving: i.e. they seek to minimize deconversions among Muslims in order to avoid loss of numbers and loss of influence.

Furthermore, the myth of religious obligations—the notion that an individual participates in certain religious practices or wears certain clothing because he or she is obligated to do so—serves a similar purpose: it exaggerates the importance of religion to personal identity in order to freeze Muslims into their affiliation and prevent them from fully exercising their freedom of conscience, because if they did so, many would inevitably leave Islam and many of those would become atheists. In reality there is no such thing as a religious obligation to which individuals autonomously submit; on the contrary, either individuals choose their religious practises, or they are being coerced by others, in which case they are victims of abuse and need help to regain their freedom. The myth of religious obligations is a tool to deny freedom and, ultimately, to promote atheophobia.

To make matters worse, many non-believers, even some atheists, fall into the trap of accepting the essentialism which underlies the condemnation of apostasy. They implicitly accept the misconception that religious practises and clothing are somehow obligatory and unquestionable—and therefore must be accommodated. We thus have the pathetic spectacle of people who claim to be secularists opposing secularism in practise and promoting multiculturalism, an essentialist ideology which attaches greater importance to the ethno-religious affiliation of the individual than it does to his or her freedom of conscience. The ethno-religious determinism facilitated by multiculturalism is the ultra-light version of the denial of apostasy. Both weaken or threaten freedom of conscience.

Next blog: Words to Cultivate

Freedom of Religion is Not Fundamental

Rather, it is freedom of conscience which is a fundamental freedom.


The repeated use of the term “freedom of religion”—while omitting “freedom from religion”—is an expression of, and indeed a cause of, religious privilege and discrimination against atheists and other non-believers.

Sommaire en français L’usage fréquent et répété du terme « liberté de religion » — sans l’inclusion de la « liberté de s’affranchir de la religion » — est une manifestation, et au fond une cause, du privilège religieux et de la discrimination contre les athées et les autres incroyants.

Freedom of religion—the freedom to believe in and practise the religion of one’s choice—is incomplete, even meaningless, unless it is accompanied by freedom FROM religion—the freedom to disbelief, to have no religious belief or practise at all, to be atheist. These two freedoms complete each other and both are subsumed by freedom of conscience (or of thought). Thus, it is freedom of conscience which is fundamental, whereas the others are consequences of it.

And yet, despite this obvious symmetry, freedom of religion is explicitly declared far more often than freedom FROM religion. This situation must change, and it is up to us atheists to initiate this change, and to insist that others follow our lead. In an era when it has become common practise to write “he/she” or “she/he” instead of simply “he”—when failing to include females in a conversation about human beings is considered discriminatory—it is unacceptable that “freedom of religion” be repeatedly mentioned without simultaneously including “freedom from religion” in the discussion. And if brevity is required, a simple mention of “freedom of conscience” suffices to imply both.

A June 2015 decision of the Supreme Court of Canada (Mouvement laïque québécois v. Saguenay (City) ) points out, in paragaph [70], that:

[…] freedom of religion includes the freedom to have no religious beliefs whatsoever. For the purposes of the protections afforded by the charters, the concepts of “belief” and “religion” encompass non-belief, atheism and agnosticism.

This is indeed good news as far as it goes, because it indicates that the Court interprets freedom of religion to include freedom from religion as well, and we can expect that future decisions from the Court will, in all likelihood, tend to respect that inclusion. However, it is not enough. In order to assure adequate legal protection for non-belief and for atheists, freedom FROM religion must be explicitly mentioned, not merely implicitly understood, wherever necessary.

Indeed, the same Supreme Court decision also stipulated in paragraph [149] that the infamous reference to “the supremacy of God” in the preamble to the Canadian Constitution

does not limit the scope of freedom of conscience and religion and does not have the effect of granting a privileged status to theistic religious practices.

This completely undercuts the argument used by religious apologists that the reference justifies religious privileges such as prayers at municipal council meetings, rendering the mention of “the supremacy of God” practically null and void. However, I do not think that any secularist would be satisfied with leaving that reference where it is, no matter how weak it has become. There is always the danger that a future interpretation will give some renewed weight to the religious argument; basing a constitution on the unknowable dictates of a hypothetical (i.e. fictional) entity is a recipe for irrationality and arbitrary injustice. Getting rid of it is now perhaps less urgent, but no less essential.

The frequent use of the unbalanced and unaccompanied expression “freedom of religion” in many contexts and over many years has had and continues to have the psychological effect of habituating us to religious privileges as normal and inevitable. We need to unlearn this very bad habit.

Similarly, we cannot rely on future judges continuing to interpret “freedom of religion” to include “freedom from religion.” To consolidate this gain, we need to make the latter freedom explicit.

We must therefore be suspicious of every declaration—especially if it occurs in legislation—of “freedom of religion” alone. Either it needs to be completed by explicitly adding “freedom from religion” or, in some cases, it should simply be eliminated. One example of the latter case is line 17.1.b of the Citizenship Regulations which stipulates that the citizenship judge shall allow:

the greatest possible freedom in the religious solemnization or the solemn affirmation thereof;

I fail to see why religion or freedom of religion should even be mentioned in this context. It is completely inappropriate. This provision should be repealed.

Another example of the unbalanced approach, where religion is promoted to the detriment of the freedom to be a non-believer, would be the Ethics and Religious Culture (ERC) program which since 2008 has been obligatory in Quebec public schools. This program presents a very sugar-coated image of several religious traditions—disturbingly slanted towards the more pious and strict forms of religiosity—while almost completely ignoring the possibility of atheism.

Yet another example, but worse, far worse in fact, is the self-serving and utterly false “freedom” promoted by Muslim fundamentalists and Islamists for whom apostasy (i.e. leaving one’s religion) is a crime. It is a very chilling fact that, according to a 2013 study by the Pew Research Center, millions of Muslims are of the opinion that apostasy should be punishable by death. This is an instance where so-called “freedom of religion” is absolutely worthless because the concomitant freedom to have no religion is completely denied.

We thus see the overwhelming importance of defending apostasy—i.e. the freedom to abandon a religion if one so desires—as a human right.

The frequent use of the unbalanced and unaccompanied expression “freedom of religion” in many contexts and over many years has had and continues to have the psychological effect of habituating us to religious privileges as normal and inevitable. We need to unlearn this very bad habit. Depending on the particular context, the expression needs to be balanced by adding “freedom from religion” to accompany it, or replaced by “freedom of conscience,” or simply removed entirely.

Next blog: Apostasy is a Human Right