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In April Ebou Sohna reported that 17 GLBTI Gambians had been imprisoned for the "crime" of homosexuality. Subsequently the Gambia Secular Assembly (an AAI Member) wrote an open letter to the Gambian government explaining that homosexuality is a natural part of human diversity and calling for the equality of all citizens. The letter was published as a series in The Standard newspaper in Gambia and you can see a scan here.
Atheist Alliance International applauds the Gambia Secular Assembly for taking a stand on behalf of GLBTI people in Gambia.
Today around the globe too many atrocities are being committed with impunity in the name of god, allah and other constructs, which have over the ages, identified or associated with the so called supreme being. The dream of a secular peaceful world where people of all faiths and none can coexist in harmony- continues to elude many across the region. Millions of people- theists and atheists- continue to suffer and are abused due to superstition, religious fundamentalism and supernaturalism. In this piece I will focus on two of such areas.
The rights of non-believers. I have heard it proclaimed at the UN that the rights of women are human rights. I have also heard it proclaimed that the rights of gay people are human rights. These proclamations changed the way human rights are perceived around the globe. Personally I have yet to hear it proclaimed at UN, or at our regional and national human rights bodies that the rights of atheists, agnostics and freethinkers are human rights. I do not want these rights to be implied or assumed as currently the case in most countries. I want them to be expressly declared as universal human rights.
In spite of the progress the world has made in terms of upholding human rights and liberties, and getting states to honour their obligations under various instruments and mechanisms, equal rights have yet to be extended to religious non-believers in most parts of the world particularly in Africa.
The Association for Secular Humanism in Malawi (an AAI Member) has
released a report on the extent of witchcraft in Malawi - and it is
depressing reading. Belief in witchcraft is widespread, the number of
cases is rising and people suspected of witchcraft are often subject to
violence. The report recommends ten initiatives to combat the violence
against those accused of witchcraft.
Atheist Alliance International congratulates the
Association for Secular Humanism for its work to document the extent of
the problems in Malawi and its ongoing campaign against superstitious
and dangerous practices.
Written by Ebou, Gambia Secular Assembly
10 March 2012
As it is the concern of many atheist and
free-thought organizations in other parts of the world, Gambia Secular Assembly
concerns itself with the separation of religion from government.
In The Gambia, religion is so juxtaposed
with government that one finds it hard to distinguish one form the other. This
is manifested in the serious promotion and propagation of particularly of Islam,
the dominant religion.
The Gambian State, largely supposed and
believed by the population to be secular, has condoned the involvement of the
State with religion. This is an unchecked involvement that extends to the State’s
investment in the construction of a mosque on the grounds of a State residence
– State House has an Imam (Islamic religious leader) paid from the government
coffers to head prayers and conduct other religious services, such as the
annual celebration of the birth of the 'prophet' of Islam, Muhammad named Maw lud al nabi in Arabic.
Written by Eli Vieira, Secular Humanist League of Brazil
13 February 2012
Originally published on the Secular Humanist League of Brazil's blog here.
In Brazil we’ve witnessed a growth in the number of national representatives elected in 2010 who only work to try and limit individual rights of women, gays and other minorities hated by biblical text. They are known as the “evangelical bench“. I would rather call them “theocratic bench”, since I know not all evangelical Christians think their beliefs should be forced down everyone’s throats, let alone by the power of a purportedly secular government.
Since we’ve got constitutional separation of church and state, we should at least hope their actions were halted. But often government is very dubious. In 2011, Marco Feliciano, a representative who is also a preacher, tried to pass a bill to make religious teaching mandatory for students in public schools. Fortunately, his bill was rejected at once.
On the other hand, public schools have been forced to offer religious teaching for decades, with no orientation whatsoever of what kind of teaching this would be, rendering a not so unexpected result of public tuition hijacked by religious proselytising, as has been proved by human rights scholar Debora Diniz. The law says students can choose not to attend religious teaching, but the truth is that most of them are not even informed of this right.
Another example of religious intrusion is that last July the governor of the state of Rio de Janeiro has approved a law that forces public libraries to have bibles in their collections. No such thing has been done in relation to the Quran or the Baghavad Gita, of course.