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The American Humanist Association (AHA) has stripped the British biologist of its Humanist of the Year award and announced atheist Richard Dawkins for the academic’s history of degrading marginalized degraded groups under the guise of scientific discourse, in a recently released statement that Questions the validity of transgender people and suggests that black identities are “fit for purpose”.

Richard Dawkins was named Humanist of the Year in 1996. (Photo by Don Arnold / Getty Images)

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Key factors

The AHA said its board of directors voted to remove the award in light of a series of statements by the biologist, under the guise of scientific discourse, to humiliate marginalized groups.

The organization said this was “contrary to humanistic values”.

The group did not point to any specific statements Dawkins made, but did refer to the academic’s recent call to “discuss” trans and black identities.

The group said Dawkins’ “subsequent attempts at clarification are inadequate and convey neither sensitivity nor sincerity.”

Dawkins received the 1996 award in recognition of his work as a science communicator. The group said this was “an important aspect in advancing the cause of humanism”.

Key background

Dawkins, a respected evolutionary biologist, Oxford academic, and best-selling author, is no stranger to the controversy as he has become one of the most recognizable faces of the New Atheist movement. His aggressive and outspoken rhetoric has accused him of hate speech and has led to some incidents of non-platforming.

Surprising fact

Dawkins coined the word “meme” in his book “The Selfish Gene”. Originally described as an idea or behavior that spreads within a culture, it has been co-opted by the Internet to describe viral content.