Born in Tanzania, Rev El-Farouk’s family fled in 1971 to escape political persecution. His parents arrived in Canada in 1974 and settled in Vancouver where he grew up. He earned a law degree from the University of British Columbia before moving to Ottawa in 1988 and has lived and worked in Toronto since 1989. He worked as a political staffer at Queen’s Park until 1993 when he left to establish his legal practice.
El-Farouk is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada and has been in private practice since 1993.
In 2014, he married his longtime partner Troy .
El-Farouk became an Appointed Designated Minister with Clergy Support Memorial Church in Oct 2016. A month earlier a cover story featuring El-Farouk was printed in the prestigious United Church Observer (Canada’s oldest Christian magazine) about his ministry and work in the ‘Rainbow Community’ (Observer Sept 16. pp 23-27).
In 2009 his Human+ Float was the recipient of Best Embodiment of the LGBTTIQQ2S award from Pride Toronto.
In 2007, El-Farouk 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.
El-Farouk was honoured at the 2006 Pride Week gala for his role in promoting Muslim awareness through Salaam. Reverend Brent Hawkes of the Toronto Metropolitan Community Christian Church said of El-Farouk 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 El-Farouk’s role specifically, he said “The work that El-Farouk has done is to help to make sure there is an option there.”
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.
El-Farouk regularly speaks publicly at events and in news media on issues ranging from refugee protection, to the global AIDS crisis, Canadian multiculturalism, racism, persecution of sexual minorities around the world, and religious and racial profiling in the war on terror, among other topics. He has appeared on CTV’s morning television program Canada AM, CBC Radio One’s The Current, and others.
In May 2009, The Toronto Unity Mosque/el-Tawhid Juma Circle was founded by Laury Silvers, a University of Toronto religious studies scholar, alongside El-Farouk and other Muslim gay-rights activists Troy Jackson. Unity Mosque/ETJC is a gender-equal, LGBT+ affirming, mosque.
In 1994, El-Farouk 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.
El-Farouk 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 or other gender-based persecution.