Saturday, 15 November 2014

All human beings everywhere

Paul, Jim and I proudly attended the annual "State of the Nation" (or in this case, "Nations") address by the formidable human rights and LGBT rights campaigner Peter Tatchell last night, on the subject Organised religion is the greatest global threat to human rights (another brilliant event hosted by the marvellous Gay & Lesbian Humanists (GALHA) at the Conway Hall).

Suffice to say, it was jaw-droppingly brilliant. No words of mine can do it justice. Thus I turn to Peter's own words to provide the gist of the almost two hour speech:
"Organised religion is the greatest global threat to human rights; especially to the human rights of women and gay people. It invariably promotes sexist and homophobic discrimination in law."

“The title of Organised Religion is a controversial claim, and you might say that free market capitalism is the greatest threat to human rights. It is debatable what is a greater threat, but I think it is organised religion that is the single greatest threat.”

"From the US and Russia to Uganda and Iran, religious fundamentalism is seeking to thwart equality and human rights. It is the cause of much sectarian violence, as we have seen in the Central African Republic, Nigeria, Pakistan, Burma, Somalia – and for many years in Northern Ireland. In Britain, our Anglican, Catholic, and Muslim leaders tried to block the right of same-sex couples to marry. Most faiths exclude women from senior leadership roles and some seek to deny them contraception, abortion and fertility treatment."

“Fundamentalists of all faiths threaten human freedom on many different levels. The Catholic Church is marginally less misogynistic and homophobic than Islamist extremists, but that’s about it.”

"Obviously, there are some people of faith, such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who are icons of human rights. Their humanitarian work is motivated by a good and positive religious ethos. But, for the most part, religious leaders around the world are the key orchestrators to attacks on human rights. This ranges from evangelical Christian leaders in the UK and the United States, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, orthodox Jewish leaders in Israel and Muslim clerics in many countries. It’s important that we support people in all faith groups, who are working for equality and human rights. It would be wrong to write off all religious people as colluding with persecution and oppression. From my own heart, I’ve been inspired by religious leaders such as Dr Martin Luther King and Archbishop Oscar Romero."

"Senior clerics are often those who are most hostile to women and gay rights. Yet only 5% of British Catholics actually support the Vatican’s opposition to contraception; 11% with the condemnation of homosexuality."

“Secularists support the separation of religion and the state. With no established state religion, there is equality for people of all faiths and none. Secularism is the best guarantor of religious freedom. It is in the interest of people of all faiths, as well as the interests of non-believers. People are entitled to their faith but they are not entitled to insist that their religious values are the law of the land.”

"All human beings everywhere have human rights and no political system or faith should be allowed to undermine them."
Powerful stuff, and not one word with which I would disagree. Here is a video of his recent lecture on the topic at the University of Exeter:

The Peter Tatchell Foundation (PTF) seeks to promote and protect the human rights of individuals, communities and nations, in the UK and internationally, in accordance with established national and international human rights law.

To join up, donate or get involved with Peter in support of this magnificent aim, visit the PTF website.


  1. Great post, Jon, and thanks for bringing PTF to my attention!

    And taking a page from "Reverend" Fred Phelps' "God Hates Fags" campaign, I've always thought it a fine idea to run up some tee shirts that say "God Hates Organised Religion" on the front, and "And, Yes, That Includes YOURS" on the back!

    1. Can I place an order please? Fuchsia pink with Swarovski lettering, of course... Jx


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