Courageous Iranian dissident supports GALHA
The courageous Iranian dissident, feminist and human rights campaigner, Maryam Namazie, has declared her support for the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association by joining its panel of vice-presidents.
Maryam Namazie was born in Tehran, but she left Iran with her family in 1980 after the establishment of the Islamic Republic under the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini. She went to study in the United States and after graduating there moved to the Sudan to work with Ethiopian refugees. Halfway through her stay, an Islamic government took power. She was threatened by this government for establishing a clandestine human rights organisation and had to be evacuated by her employer for her own safety.
Back in the United States, Ms Namazie worked for various refugee and human rights organisations. Since 1998 she has been director of the Federation of Iranian Refugees, an international organisation with 60 branches in nearly 20 countries, which campaigns on behalf of thousands of Iranian asylum seekers and refugees. Some of her personal successes include preventing the deportation of over 1000 Iranian refugees from the Netherlands after having spoken at a parliamentary meeting on the issue, and spearheading a campaign to prevail on the Turkish government to extend the period in which asylum seekers can apply for asylum.
She has worked on numerous other campaigns: opposing stonings and other barbaric executions in Islamic theocracies, defending the banning of religious symbols from schools and public institutions, opposing the incitement to religious hatred bill in the UK and defending the secularisation of society in Britain and elsewhere. She supported the successful campaign against the introduction of a Sharia court in Canada, being a speaker at its first public meeting in Toronto.
She is an inveterate commentator and broadcaster on human rights, cultural relativism, secularism, religion, political Islam and many other related topics.
On 8 October 2005, she received the first 'Securalist of the Year' award from the UK National Secular Society. On 20 March 2006 she was guest lecturer at Peter Tatchell's fifth human rights fundraiser. On 25 March 2006, she was one of the speakers at the Rally for Free Expression held in London's Trafalgar Square.
Commenting on the new addition to the panel of vice-presidents, GALHA's chairperson Lee Stacy said: "We are delighted to have the support of such a courageous and dedicated humanitarian, staunch secularist, and defender of lgbt rights."