Month: June 2018

CEMB marches in Pride London to defend the rights of LGBT, Apostates and Blasphemers

Our rights and lives are interlinked

Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain will be marching at Pride London on Saturday 7 July 2018 for the rights of LGBT in countries under Islamic rule; in 15 countries or territories, homosexuality is punishable by the death penalty. Many of the same states punish apostasy and blasphemy with death. Clearly, the lives and rights of apostates and LGBT are intertwined.

Absurdly, and until recently, we were unsure if we would be permitted to march after accusations of ‘Islamophobia’ by the homophobic East London Mosque against CEMB. After 8 months, Pride finally met with us and gave us the go ahead to march.

And march we will.

In a piece published in sister-hood today, CEMB Spokesperson Maryam Namazie explains why accusations of ‘Islamophobia’ are used to defend religious privilege and impose de facto blasphemy laws where none exist. She says:

“The charge of ‘Islamophobia’ protects religion and the religious Right, not believers. There is a clear difference between the term xenophobia, for example, which describes how migrants are targeted by bigotry, or homophobia, where people are targeted for their sexuality, versus Islamophobia, which describes the criticism of an idea. Religion is an idea; Islamism and the religious-Right are political movements. They must be open to criticism.”

Pragna Patel, Director of Southall Black Sisters says:

“SBS fully supports the right of CEMB to be at the Pride march. In the face of rising intolerance and hatred promoted by the self-styled and Islamist linked East London Mosque and its cohorts, it is vital that Pride remains a safe and progressive space for those who are the first targets of hatred and violence. The presence of CEMB in such demonstrations is vital in exposing the agendas of those like the East London Mosque that claim to support LBGT rights whilst silencing and going after those deemed to be apostates, blasphemers and dissenters from within. Solidarity in the face of violence, intimidation and censorship is the only weapon we have to defeat these forces of darkness.“

Human Rights Campaigner Peter Tatchell says:

“I welcome CEMB to the London LGBT+ Pride parade. They are doing important, fearless work exposing Islamist countries that have the death penalty not only for LGBT+ people, but also for Muslims who leave the faith, women who have sex outside of marriage and those who dissent from Islamic orthodoxy. CEMB is a much valued ally of the LGBT+ community and of all progressive people everywhere.”

Gita Sahgal, Director of Centre for Secular Space says:

“I am proud to march with CEMB at Pride for the second time. Our presence on the parade is a victory against Islamist attempts to silence us. The right to apostasy and the right to sexual freedom are closely connected. As we celebrate at Pride in London, we march in solidarity with all those threatened with death for their beliefs and their loves.  Fundamentalist mosques like East London Mosque and organisations like MEND have failed to condemn laws criminalising apostasy and same sex relationships. They are silent on the killing of homosexuals and apostates in the name of Islam; and instead create a climate of fear and threat for campaigners. Why else do so many gay Muslims live in hiding? We urge all who support these twin freedoms, and who stand with migrants and refugees fleeing for their lives, to stand with us.”

We especially welcome Muslims and ex-Muslims to join us at Pride to highlight the persecution of LGBT and apostates and defend the right to love, think and live as one chooses. We stand and fight together for our common humanity and universal human rights.

For more information on our ‘controversial’ placards, the East London Mosque, charges of ‘Islamophobia,’ and why CEMB must march for LGBT rights, see a Bread and Roses TV interview with our new Spokesperson Jimmy Bangash.

Also see a video of a panel discussion on LGBT rights, Apostasy and Blasphemy at Pride Festival, chaired by Gita Sahgal of Centre for Secular Space. Panellists were Jimmy Bangash; Matthew Mahmood-Ogston, Founder & Trustee of Naz and Matt Foundation; Sadia Hameed, CEMB Spokesperson and Syed Isteak Hossain Shawon, LGBT activist from Bangladesh and Editor of Boys Love World.

If you are interested in joining us at pride, please email to register your interest. Space is limited so please get in touch as soon as possible.

On 7 July, also join us on social media using hashtag:


“I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies,
This is me.”

– From The Greatest Showman

In solidarity
Maryam and Sadia
Maryam Namazie and Sadia Hameed
Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
BM Box 1919
London, WC1N 3XX
United Kingdom

LGBT Rights, Apostasy and Blasphemy at Pride Festival

Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) is organising a screening of the film, Islam’s Non-Believers, by award-winning filmmaker Deeyah Khan on 14th June, from 6:00-9:00pm, as part of London Pride Festival to raise awareness amongst those who are unfamiliar with CEMB & the ex-Muslim movement.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion and Q&A on LGBT Rights, Apostasy and Blasphemy. Imaan, Mend, East London Mosque, Pride and Pink News have been invited to join the discussion.

Confirmed Speakers:

Jimmy Bangash, LGBT Activist

Matthew Mahmood-Ogston, Founder & Trustee of Naz and Matt Foundation

Sadia Hameed, Spokesperson of Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain

Syed Haider, Chair of Hidayah, an LGBTQI+ organisation looking to support LGBT+ Muslims

Syed Isteak Hossain Shawon, LGBT activist from Bangladesh and Editor of Boys Love World

The panel discussion will be chaired by Gita Sahgal, Chair of Centre for Secular Space.

The format of the evening is as follows:

6:00pm – Welcoming guests

6:30pm – Screening of Islam’s Non-belivers

7:15pm – Break for drinks

7:30pm – Panel Discussion

9:00pm – Finish

The venue location will be given to ticket holders closer to the date of the event. Please note that tickets cannot be bought at the door and must be purchased prior to the event.

For more information, please contact


Deeyah Khan is a critically acclaimed music producer and Emmy and Peabody award-winning documentary film director. She was born in Norway to immigrant parents of Pashtun and Punjabi ancestry. Her 2012 multi-award winning documentary “Banaz: A Love Story” chronicles the “honour killing” of a young British Kurdish woman killed in 2006 in London. Deeyah’s second film the Bafta-nominated “Jihad” involved two years of interviews and filming with Islamic extremists, convicted terrorists and former jihadis. Her third film is on ex-Muslims, called “Islam’s Non Believers”. She has also received several awards for her work supporting freedom of expression, human rights and peace, including the Ossietzky prize by Norwegian PEN and the University of Oslo’s Human Rights Award. She received the 2016 Peer Gynt Prize from the Parliament of Norway. Deeyah is also the CEO of Fuuse. One of the most recent Fuuse initiatives is “sister-hood”, a digital magazine and a series of live events spotlighting the voices of women of Muslim heritage.

Gita Sahgal is a writer, journalist, film-maker and rights activist. She is currently Founder and Director of Centre for Secular Space. She was formerly Head of the Gender Unit at Amnesty International; she was suspended in 2010 after she was quoted criticising Amnesty for its high-profile associations with the Islamist Moazzam Begg, the director of a group called Cageprisoners. For many years she served on the board of Southall Black Sisters and was a founder of Women Against Fundamentalism and Awaaz: South Asia Watch. With Nira Yival Davis, she edited “Refusing Holy Orders: Women and Fundamentalism in Britain” ( London, 1992). Among her articles are “Legislating Utopia? Violence Against Women, Identities and Interventions” in “The Situated Politics of Belonging”. During the 1980s, she worked for a Black current affairs programme called “Bandung File” on Channel 4 TV. She made two films about the Rushdie affair, “Hullaballoo Over Satanic Verses” and “Struggle or Submission”. She has also made two programmes for Dispatches Channel 4, “The Provoked Wife” on the case of Kiranjit Ahluwalia and “The War Crimes File” an investigation into allegations of war crimes committed by members of the Jamaat i Islami in Bangladesh in 1971.

Jimmy Bangash is a gay British ex-Muslim Pakistani living in the UK. He grew up in a traditional Pashtun family in London where he struggled with both the homophobia and ardent misogyny within his community. He has written poems and prose about these experiences; many of which have been published on Sedaa. As an LGBT ex-Muslim activist, he is committed to unbridling the reins of patriarchy on gays and women of Muslim heritage. As a coach, he seeks to empower those individuals liberated from problematic ideologies to live a life of authenticity, self-assurance and self-expression.

Matthew Mahmood-Ogston is Founder & Trustee of Naz and Matt Foundation. In 2001, soon after coming out to himself, Matt met his soulmate Naz in a nightclub in Birmingham. Naz was 21, Matt was 23. They quickly fell in love and ran away to London to be themselves and escape the intense pressures of not being out to family. They had to keep their relationship a secret for fear of what might happen if they were found out. After 13 years together and engaged to be married, Naz (Dr Nazim Mahmood) sadly took his own life, just two days after being confronted about his sexuality by his deeply religious family during Eid. It was the first time they had heard that their son was gay, in a long term relationship with another man, in love, and planning to get married. Their solution was to tell Naz that he needed to see a psychiatrist to be ‘cured’ for being gay. For ‘shame’ not to be brought on the family. In memory of Naz, Matt set up “Naz and Matt Foundation”, a registered charity that tackles religious and cultural homophobia. The organisation helps families learn how to accept their LGBTQI+ children for who they really are – for who they were born to be.  The Foundation’s mission is to “Never let religion, any religion, come in the way of the unconditional love between parents and their children.”

Sadia Hameed is a Spokesperson of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and has been featured in a 2016 film, “Islam’s Non Believers”, by award-winning filmmaker Deeyah Khan. She is also a human rights activist and Honour Based Violence, Forced Marriage and FGM Consultant, based in Gloucestershire, working in the sexual violence field, with a focus on Black Minority Ethnic women. Sadia organised a hugely successful event titled ‘Let’s Talk Honour’ in October 2016, which was held at Gloucester University. She also launched Critical Sisters. She is Winner of IKWRO Special Recognition: Activist of the Year 2017.

Syed Haider is Head of Academic Subjects at the International Study Centre at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is also Chair of Hidayah, an LGBTQI+ organisation looking to support LGBT+ Muslims and work with allies in promoting a more critical understanding of Islam and Islamicate traditions. He has published a number of articles, most recently on the shootings in Orlando (The Shooting in Orlando, Terrorism or Toxic Masculinity (or Both?)) and ‘Shadows on the Wall’ in Gay Times. His research interest lies in culture and the role of cultural products in the transmission of ideas, and his forthcoming monograph is titled Muslim modernities on the Hindi screen published by Routledge.

Syed Isteak Hossain Shawon is an LGBT activist from Bangladesh and Editor of Boys Love World, which has been established in 2011 as an online Magazine for Bangladeshi LGBT Activists. The mission of the Boys Love World is to advocate and defend LGBT community and its members. Bangladeshi LGBT rights activists and bloggers from different country contributes to Boys Love World with their quality writings and engages with the readers. Boys Love World has many readers not only in Bangladesh but around the world. Our main aim is to educate mass people about LGBT community and cultivating a sentiment in favour of equality and diversity to create a safe environment where LGBT people can promote and explore their culture and work in the interests of the public benefit to remove any social exclusion. We achieve our aims and objectives by holding various events, workshops and seminars throughout the year.

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