El-Farouk Khaki

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El-Farouk Khaki
Personal details
Born (1963-10-26) October 26, 1963 (age 59)
Political partyNew Democratic Party
SpouseTroy Jackson
Residence(s)Toronto, Ontario
Alma materUniversity of British Columbia

El-Farouk Khaki (born October 26, 1963) is a Tanzanian-born Muslim Canadian of Indian origin who is a refugee and immigration lawyer, and human rights activist on issues including gender equality, sexual orientation, and progressive Islam. He was the New Democratic Party's candidate for the House of Commons in the riding of Toronto Centre in a March 17, 2008 by-election. Khaki came in second with 13.8% of the vote.


He was born in Tanzania, which his family fled in 1971 escaping political persecution. His parents arrived in Canada in 1974 and settled in Vancouver where Khaki grew up.[1] He earned a law degree from the University of British Columbia before moving to Ottawa in 1988[1] and has lived and worked in Toronto since 1989.[2] He worked as a political staffer at Queen's Park until 1993 when he left to establish his legal practice.[2] Khaki is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada and has been in private practice since 1993.[3] On June 26, 2014, he married his longtime partner Troy Jackson.[4]


Khaki founded Salaam in 1991, a support group for gay Muslims.[1]

In 2003, he helped organize the first female-led, mixed-gender Muslim congregational prayers in Canada for the Salaam/Al-Fateha International Conference, and in 2005, organized the first such prayers anywhere to be held in a mosque.[5][6][7] He has served on the Toronto Mayor's Committee on Community & Race Relations, on the board of The 519 Community Centre, and is now elected chair of Africans in Partnership Against AIDS.[8]

Khaki regularly speaks publicly at events and in news media on issues ranging from refugee protection,[9] to the global AIDS crisis, Canadian multiculturalism,[10] racism,[10] persecution of sexual minorities around the world,[11] and religious and racial profiling in the war on terror, among other topics. His appearances include CTV's morning television program Canada AM,[12] CBC Radio One's The Current,[13] and others.

On April 30, 2007, Khaki won the New Democratic Party's nomination in Toronto Centre.[14] Incumbent Bill Graham resigned necessitating a by-election held on March 17, 2008.[15] The by-election was won by Bob Rae.

Khaki was the 2009 parade grand marshal for Toronto's pride parade.[16]

In May 2009, The Toronto Unity Mosque / el-Tawhid Juma Circle was founded by Laury Silvers, a University of Toronto religious studies scholar, alongside Muslim gay-rights activists El-Farouk Khaki and Troy Jackson. Unity Mosque/ETJC is a gender-equal, LGBT+ affirming, mosque.[17][18][19][20]

In 2016, Khaki was named by The Advocate magazine to a list of "21 LGBT Muslims Who Are Changing the World."[21] In 2018, El-Farouk participated in a TEDxUTSC talk about intersectionality and validity of gay Muslims [5]

Refugee law[edit]

In 1994, Khaki represented a refugee claim before the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada which lasted eight sittings rather than the usual single session and led to the implementation of sensitivity training for IRB Members and staff on sexual orientation issues.[2]

Khaki continues to specialize in representing before the IRB a variety of severely marginalized social groups, such as persons living with HIV/AIDS and women fleeing domestic violence or other gender-based persecution.[2]

Progressive Islam[edit]

Khaki founded Salaam, the first gay Muslim group in Canada and second in the world, in 1993, and organized the Salaam/Al-Fateha International Conference in 2003.[1] He co-founded and served as Secretary General of the Muslim Canadian Congress, in August 2006 until the group split. Khaki and other members including much of the leadership of the MCC created a new organization, the Canadian Muslim Union (CMU). He also founded, with academic Laury Silvers, and his partner Troy Jackson the El-Tawhid Juma Circle. ETJC is a gender-equal, LGBTQ affirming space for Friday prayers.


On May 23, 2009, Khaki made the opening remarks at a Queers Against Israeli Apartheid event to "reignite Toronto’s queer community in the fight against apartheid".[22] Shortly after, B'nai Brith condemned him and implied that he is "part and parcel of the anti-Israel machinery that continues to churn out hateful and divisive propaganda."[16]

B'nai Brith executive vice-president Frank Dimant said Khaki should be subject to "disciplinary action" by Pride Toronto.[23]

In response, Khaki with his partner Troy Jackson formed the Human Positive foundation, an organization which goal is "Justice, Freedom and Dignity for All peoples" and rejects the idea that criticism of the government of Israel is equivalent to antisemitism.[citation needed]

In 2009, his Human+ Float was the recipient of Best Embodiment of the LGBTTIQQ2S award from Pride Toronto.[24]

Electoral record[edit]

Canadian federal by-election, March 17, 2008: Toronto Centre
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Bob Rae 14,187 59.2 +7.0
New Democratic El-Farouk Khaki 3,299 13.8 −9.9
Green Chris Tindal 3,263 13.6 +8.4
Conservative Donald Meredith 2,982 12.5 −5.7
Animal Alliance Liz White 123 0.5 +0.4
Canadian Action Doug Plumb 97 0.4 -
Liberal hold Swing +8.5
2008 Canadian federal election
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Bob Rae 27,577 53.6% -5.6%
Conservative David Gentili 9,405 18.3% +5.8%
New Democratic El-Farouk Khaki 7,744 15.1% +1.3%
Green Ellen Michelson 6,081 11.8% -1.8%
Communist Johan Boyden 193 0.4% +0.2%**
Animal Alliance Liz White 187 0.4% -0.1%
Independent Gerald Derome 155 0.3% n/a
Marxist–Leninist Philip Fernandez 92 0.2% +0.09%**
Total valid votes 51,434
Total rejected ballots
Turnout 59.2%


Khaki was honoured at the 2006 Pride Week gala for his role in promoting queer Muslim awareness through Salaam.[1] Reverend Brent Hawkes of the Toronto Metropolitan Community Church said of Khaki and the group, "I think Salaam is very important, both locally and internationally, in terms of creating a safe place for people of Muslim tradition to be able to come together both socially and spiritually". Of Khaki's role, he said "The work that El-Farouk has done is to help to make sure there is an option there."[1]

In spring 2007, Khaki received the Steinert and Ferreiro Award from the Lesbian and Gay Community Appeal Foundation for his "major role in paving the way in Canada for refugee protection on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender", and because he "broke ground" in his work on gender equality in the Muslim community.[25] The previous summer, Pride Toronto, one of the world's largest gay-pride festivals, recognized his work building tolerance and inclusiveness in the Muslim community with the 2006 Pride Award for Excellence in Spirituality.[26] Also in 2007, Khaki was honoured with the Canadian Bar Association's Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Conference Hero Award for contributions made in the area of equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people for his work with refugees who are sexual minorities or suffering from HIV.[27]

Media Mentions[edit]

"21 LGBT Muslims Who Are Changing the World." The Advocate. December 20, 2016. Web.[21]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Catherine Patch, "Queer Muslims find peace; El-Farouk Khaki founded Salaam Offers a place to retain spirituality", Toronto Star, June 15, 2006
  2. ^ a b c d Nicholas Keung, Gay, Muslim lawyer bucks stereotypes -- El-Farouk Khaki says human rights abuses call for a 'jihad,' a struggle against injustice, Toronto Star, March 29, 2007
  3. ^ Lavender Law 2007 Speaker Biography, [1] Archived 2007-09-03 at the Wayback Machine, Lavender Law 2007 Speaker Bios, September 6, 2007
  4. ^ Agence France-Presse, [2] Archived 2014-07-14 at the Wayback Machine, Mass gay wedding held in Toronto as 115 same-sex couples tie the knot, July 11, 2014
  5. ^ Rachel Sa, "Making history first mosque prayers led by a woman: Mixed-gender service", National Post, July 2, 2005
  6. ^ Jen Gerson, "Woman leads Islamic prayers in mosque, a first for Canada -- Country could become the conscience of the religion, she says in Friday sermon", Globe & Mail, July 2, 2005
  7. ^ [3], Washington Post/Newsweek
  8. ^ [4], www.elfaroukkhaki.ca
  9. ^ Frank Prendergast, "Lives at risk, warn activists", Xtra!, February 25, 1998
  10. ^ a b Zuhair Kashmeri, "Does the UofT's discipline code target minorities?", Toronto Star, April 4, 1995
  11. ^ Charles Montgomery, "Queer Refugees -- Canada is seen as a haven for those persecuted for their sexual orientation. Do we deserve the praise?", Georgia Straight, Vol. 35, #1754, Aug. 2-9, 2001
  12. ^ Gay refugee claimant fights deportation order Archived 2007-04-03 at the Wayback Machine, CTV, February 8, 2007
  13. ^ Gay persecution in Iraq, Islamic historical context, CBC, June 12, 2006
  14. ^ Rob Salerno, NDP picks queer lawyer for Toronto Centre, Xtra!, May 10, 2007
  15. ^ Barbara Yaffe, Byelections will show whether Tories have any Quebec traction Archived 2012-11-06 at the Wayback Machine, Vancouver Sun, August 17, 2007
  16. ^ a b Zerbisias, Antonia (2009-05-29). "Jewish group slams anti-Israel gays". Toronto Star. Retrieved May 1, 2010.
  17. ^ "El-tawhid juma circle". Retrieved 19 April 2017.
  18. ^ Mastracci, Davide (April 4, 2017). "What It's Like To Pray At A Queer-Inclusive Mosque". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 19 April 2017.
  19. ^ Habib, Samra (3 June 2016). "Queer and going to the mosque: 'I've never felt more Muslim than I do now'". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 April 2017.
  20. ^ Gillis, Wendy (August 25, 2013). "Islamic scholars experience diversity of Muslim practices at U of T summer program". Toronto Star. Retrieved 19 April 2017.
  21. ^ a b Jacob Ogles (2016-12-20). "21 LGBT Muslims Who Are Changing the World". The Advocate. Retrieved 20 December 2016.
  22. ^ "Reject anti-Israeli apartheid meeting, 'queers' urged". Archived from the original on 2009-05-25.
  23. ^ "The unravelling of Pride Toronto". Xtra. 2010-06-16. Retrieved 2019-09-14.
  24. ^ Actually, Muslims. "El Farouk Khaki – Creating Inclusion For All". muslimlink.ca. Retrieved 2019-09-24.
  25. ^ Tireless Activist and Advocate for Human Rights, LGCA, 2007
  26. ^ Award Honourees Announced, Pride Toronto, June 20, 2006
  27. ^ "El-Farouk Khaki honoured with 2007 CBA SOGIC Hero Award," Archived 2013-04-21 at the Wayback Machine Canadian Bar Association, August 11, 2007, accessed March 20, 2008

External links[edit]