Monthly meetings of our Group are usually held on a Monday. Details of upcoming events are also published on the East London Humanist Meetup site.
The meetings aim to be educational, stimulating and fun. It is a chance to engage socially and in lively discussion and debate with like minded, open-minded thinking people. There is also an opportunity to keep up to date and engage in our campaigning and other activities.
KEATS HOUSE, HAMPSTEAD HEATH
SUNDAY 1 OCTOBER
Join us on a visit to the home of one of this country’s greatest poets, set in a beautiful location by Hampstead Heath. The event is in honour of Shehz, a member of our group. Born in Quetta in Baluchistan, Shehz was enthralled by the works of Keats. He became a teacher but was forced to flee by the Taliban for his beliefs. He is currently appealing the refusal of his asylum claim. He faces an awful fate if compelled to return.
“…….a poet is a sage; a humanist, a physician to all men….” John Keats (1795 – 1821) from The Fall of Hyperion.’ The poem was unfinished when Keats died tragically at the age of 26.
Meet at entrance to Stratford Station 14.00* if you want to travel with the group. We will be taking the Overground to Hampstead Heath Station. Approx journey time 30 mins. Keats House is a 2 minute walk from the station.
Entry to the House and garden £7.50 for adults. Concessions available, e.g. students, National Trust members.
*At the time of publishing this notice the Overground appears to be running normally this Sunday. However, it is advisable to check on the day. In the event of disruption we will aim to just meet at the house.
N. Ireland and the battle for progress
Monday 23 Oct 2017. 7.30 – 9.00 pm
Discussion led by Boyd Sleator, the dynamic Development Officer for the Northern Ireland Humanist section. Formed only last year, the group has already had a huge impact. Boyd will be in London for a landmark Supreme Court case due to commence the day after the meeting.
The backdrop is the fiftieth anniversary of the Abortion Act and the Homosexual Law Reform Act. Passed in 1967, they helped create the more understanding country we live in today. Generations have grown up who have not experienced at first hand just how bad things were before these reforms. But it is sometimes forgotten to what extent Northern Ireland was left behind. Boyd will describe how attempts at reform have been thwarted by the forces of extreme religious conservatism.
Boyd has always been passionate about human rights and equality. The issues became even more important to him when his twin sons were born in 2014. He says ‘I want my kids and future generations to live without bigotry, sectarianism, homophobia and racism in a fair and secular society.’
The DUP is at the forefront of fighting the movement for justice and equality. One mechanism they use to veto progress is the so-called ‘Petition of Concern.’ It was introduced by the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 to ensure that contentious legislation is not passed without cross-community support. Designed to avoid discrimination, it has been repeatedly used to block reforms that we have long enjoyed on the mainland. It is therefore very disquieting that Theresa May has entered into an alliance with the DUP.
One early victory for progress came in June when Belfast High Court gave the go-ahead for football star Eunan O’Kane and public speaker and model Laura Lacole to celebrate a Humanist marriage (pictured right). They married two weeks later. However, the ruling was almost immediately challenged by the Northern Ireland Government and there are ongoing Court of Appeal proceedings.
Another battleground is gay rights. Northern Ireland is the last corner of the British Isles where gay marriage is not permitted. Despite approval from a majority of NI Assembly members the DUP used their veto to block it. A challenge by two couples was rejected by the NI Court of Appeal in August.
Northern Ireland also has some of the harshest laws on abortion in the world. It remains illegal in all but the most extreme cases. The maximum sentence is life imprisonment. One recent prosecution concerns a mother who obtained medication for her 15 year old daughter pregnant from an abusive relationship. (It is interesting to note that the male in the abusive relationship was not prosecuted). Boyd will be at the Supreme Court with Humanists UK to argue that Northern Ireland’s law does not comply with the European Convention on Human Rights.
The meeting is free and open to all. There will be a collection to defray expenses (minimum donation of £3 suggested). Donations to our monthly collection for the Eat or Heat food bank (Walthamstow) are also welcomed.
Doors open 7.00 pm for light refreshments and chatting. Join us afterwards at The George for further socialising and lively conversation. The George is a comfortable, good value and convivial pub opposite Wanstead Tube.
ISLAM & ATHEISM: IRRECONCILEABLE ENEMIES?
MONDAY 13 NOVEMBER.
This is a special event to help further a tolerant society and understanding of humanism among religious communities.
The event is being hosted by Humanists UK with Conway Hall and New Horizons in British Islam. The full title is ‘Islam and atheism: irreconcilable enemies? How can humanists and Muslims make it work?’ . Tickets are now on sale on EventBrite for £7 at https://islam-atheism-conway.
Andrew Copson (Chief Exec. Humanists UK) is one of the key speakers, along with Aliyah Saleem from Faith to Faithless, the Humanists UK programme which supports ex-Muslims and other ‘apostates’. The other speakers are Arzoo Ahmed (Director, Centre for Islam and Medicine) and Dilwar Hussain (Chair, New Horizons in British Islam). The chair is journalist and broadcaster Samira Ahmed. There will be plenty of time to ask questions.
We’re at an interesting juncture: over half the population is non-religious, including many ex-Muslims, and one in five live by a broadly humanist worldview (whether or not they call themselves ‘humanists’). At the same time, around one in twenty nationally – and one in eight Londoners – identifies as a Muslim. And there’s plenty of diversity within these categories.
Yes, unbelief and belief are ‘irreconcilable’. But does that make every form of Islam and humanism or, more importantly, people who are Muslims and humanists/atheists, irreconcilable enemies? Looking beyond the simple belief/unbelief divide, where are there fundamental differences? Where is there common ground? What can we collectively do to help make our plural society work better?
Please join us for what is sure to be a productive discussion.
Introduction to Humanism
Monday 27 Nov 2017. 7.30 – 9.00 pm
Details to be confirmed.
END OF YEAR DINNER
Details to be confirmed.