Secularist of the Year winners

The Secularist of the Year award is presented annually in recognition of an individual or an organisation considered to have made an outstanding contribution to the secularist movement. From 2005 to 2017 the award was kindly sponsored by NSS honorary associate Dr. Michael Irwin.

The prize has previously been awarded to:

2019 Saif ul Malook, for his courageous defense of Asia Bibi and other clients in Pakistan accused of blasphemy. Asia Bibi was sentenced to death by hanging for allegedly insulting the Islamic prophet Muhammad in November 2010. Pakistan's Supreme Court ordered her to be freed in October 2018. It upheld her acquittal in the face of a petition urging its quashing in January 2019. Presented by the academic, author, broadcaster and acclaimed human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson QC.

2018 Phil Johnson and Graham Sawyer, for their courageous campaigning work over many years to expose the institutional abuse of children and vulnerable adults in the Church of England in the face of institutional hostility. They have supported other survivors of abuse in religious settings and worked tirelessly to promote real and lasting change to protect children in the future. More broadly they have challenged religious privilege where it results in that abuse and its cover-up - presented by human rights campaigner and journalist Peter Tatchell.

2017 Yasmin Rehman, for her advocacy of a secularist approach to tackling hate crime, promoting social cohesion and the human rights of women, and challenging sectarianism and theocracy – presented by broadcaster and writer Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.

2016 Educate Together, for its work in challenging religious discrimination/privilege in Ireland's education system and setting out a positive vision for inclusive secular education – presented by broadcaster and writer Julia Hartley-Brewer.

2015 Charlie Hebdo, for its courageous response to the terror attack on its Paris office and defence of secularism – presented by Martin Rowson, Guardian cartoonist and author.

2014 Safak Pavey, for her international work promoting secularism, Human Rights and gender equality as well as humanitarian aid and peace-building – presented by Kerry McCarthy MP, Shadow Foreign Office Minister.

2013 In honour of young human rights activist Malala Yousafzai, the prize was donated to Plan UK, represented by Debbie Langdon-Davies – presented by Michael Cashman MEP.

2012 Peter Tatchell, for his lifelong commitment to the defence of human rights against religious fundamentalism – presented by Nick Cohen.

2011 Sophie in 't Veld MEP, for her work as chair of the European Parliamentary Platform for Secularism in Politics – presented by A. C. Grayling.

2010 The Southall Black Sisters group, for their support of black and Asian women's human rights, accepted by Pragna Patel – presented by Michael Irwin.

2009 Evan Harris MP and Lord Avebury, joint award for their work in the abolition of blasphemy law –presented by Richard Dawkins.

2007 Mina Ahadi, founder of the German Central Council of Ex-Muslims – presented by Joan Smith.

2006 Prof. Steve Jones, biologist at University College London and author of a number of books on evolution –presented by Dick Taverne.

2005 Maryam Namazie, for her work in defence of women's rights and the right to freedom of expression –presented by Polly Toynbee.