Peter Tatchell

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Peter Tatchell
Tatchell in 2016
Peter Gary Tatchell

(1952-01-25) 25 January 1952 (age 72)
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  • Australian (until 1989)[1]
  • British (since 1989)[1]
Alma materUniversity of North London
Occupation(s)Human rights campaigner, journalist
Political party Edit this at Wikidata

Peter Gary Tatchell (born 25 January 1952) is an Australian-born British human rights campaigner, best known for his work with LGBT social movements.

Tatchell was selected as the Labour Party's parliamentary candidate for Bermondsey in 1981. He was then denounced by party leader Michael Foot for ostensibly supporting extra-Parliamentary action against the Thatcher government.[2] Labour subsequently allowed him to stand in the 1983 Bermondsey by-election in February 1983, in which the party lost the seat to the Liberals. In the 1990s he campaigned for LGBT rights through the direct action group OutRage!, which he co-founded. He has worked on various campaigns, such as Stop Murder Music against music lyrics allegedly inciting violence against LGBT people and writes and broadcasts on various human rights and social justice issues. He attempted a citizen's arrest of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in 1999 and again in 2001.

In April 2004, Tatchell joined the Green Party of England and Wales and in 2007 was selected as prospective Parliamentary candidate in the constituency of Oxford East,[3][4][5] but in December 2009 he stood down due to brain damage he says was caused by a bus accident as well as damage sustained during various protests.[6] Since 2011, he has been Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation. He has taken part in over 30 debates at the Oxford Union,[7][8][9] encompassing a wide range of issues such as patriotism, Thatcherism and university safe spaces.

Early life[edit]

Tatchell at his home in 2007

Tatchell was born in Melbourne, Australia.[10] His father was a lathe operator and his mother worked in a biscuit factory. His parents divorced when he was four and his mother remarried soon afterwards. He had a half sister and brothers.[11]

Since the family finances were strained by medical bills, he had to leave school at 16 in 1968. He started work as a sign-writer and window-dresser in department stores.[12] Tatchell claims to have incorporated the theatricality of these displays into his activism.[13]

Raised as a Christian, Tatchell says that he "ditched [his] faith a long time ago" and is an atheist.[14] It has been wrongly reported that Tatchell is a vegan; however, Tatchell himself has stated that although he eats no meat, he does eat eggs, cheese,[15] and, according to Richard Fairbrass, wild salmon,[16] meaning Tatchell is a pescetarian.

He became interested in outdoor adventurous activities such as surfing and mountain climbing. Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Any Questions about how insurance and legal risks were making British teachers reluctant to take pupils on outdoor adventures, he said outdoor activities helped him develop the courage to take political risks in adult life.[17]

Campaigns in Australia[edit]

Tatchell's political activity began at Mount Waverley Secondary College,[18] where in 1967 he launched campaigns in support of Australia's Aboriginal people. Tatchell was elected secretary of the school's Student Representative Council. In his final year in 1968, as school captain, he took the lead in setting up a scholarship scheme for Aboriginal people and led a campaign for Aboriginal land rights. These activities led the headmaster to claim he had been manipulated by communists.[19]

Prompted by the impending hanging of Ronald Ryan in 1967, Tatchell went round his local area painting slogans against the hanging, a fact he did not reveal until nearly 30 years later.[20] Ryan was accused of killing a prison warder while escaping from Pentridge Prison in Coburg, Victoria. Tatchell claimed, unsuccessfully, that the trajectory of the bullet through the warder's body probably made it impossible that Ryan could have fired the fatal shot.[21]

In 1968, Tatchell began campaigning against the American and Australian involvement in the Vietnam War,[22] in his view a war of aggression in support of a "brutal and corrupt dictatorship" responsible for torture and executions. The Victoria state government and Melbourne city council attempted to suppress the anti-Vietnam War campaign by banning street leafleting and taking police action against anti-war demonstrations.[23]

In 2004, he proposed the renaming of Australian capital cities with their Aboriginal place names.[24]

Gay Liberation Front[edit]

Original UK Gay Liberation Front activists, including Bette Bourne (on the left), at an LSE 40th anniversary celebration. Tatchell is fourth from the left.

To avoid conscription into the Australian Army, Tatchell moved to London in 1971.[25] He had opened up about being gay in 1969, and in London became a leading member of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF)[26] until its 1974 collapse. During this time Tatchell was prominent in organising sit-ins at pubs that refused to serve "poofs" and protests against police harassment and the medical classification of homosexuality as an illness. With others, he helped organise Britain's first Gay Pride march in 1972.[27]

In 1973, he attended the 10th World Youth Festival in East Berlin on GLF's behalf. His plans to protest at the festival were not well received by either the British delegation or the GDR hosts, but he was eventually allowed to give a speech at Humboldt University. His lecture was subject to various disruptions; it ended in his denunciation as a "troublemaker" by a member of the audience.[28] The following day, Tatchell attempted to hand out leaflets at a concert, an official of the Free German Youth objected and encouraged fellow concert-goers to destroy the leaflets. Tatchell intended to carry a placard advocating gay rights at the closing rally of the festival. The British delegation incorrectly translated the placard to read "East Germany persecutes homosexuals"; this was put to a vote and the majority decided the placard was not acceptable.[28] Yet, in defiance of the collective decision, Tatchell carried the placard anyway and was then beaten. The placard was torn in half.

Tatchell later claimed that this was the first time gay liberation politics were publicly disseminated and discussed in a communist country, although he noted that, in terms of decriminalisation and the age of consent, gay men had greater rights in East Germany at the time than much of the West.[29][30]

Describing his time in the Gay Liberation Front, he wrote in The Guardian that:

[The] GLF was a glorious, enthusiastic and often chaotic mix of anarchists, hippies, leftwingers, feminists, liberals and counter-culturalists. Despite our differences, we shared a radical idealism—a dream of what the world could and should be—free from not just homophobia but the whole sex-shame culture, which oppressed straights as much as LGBTs. We were sexual liberationists and social revolutionaries, out to turn the world upside down. ... GLF's main aim was never equality within the status quo. ... GLF's strategy for queer emancipation was to change society's values and norms, rather than adapt to them. We sought a cultural revolution to overturn centuries of male heterosexual domination and thereby free both queers and women. ... Forty years on, GLF's gender agenda has been partly won. ... Girlish boys and boyish girls don't get victimised as much as in times past. LGBT kids often now come out at the age of 12 or 14. While many are bullied, many others are not. The acceptance of sexual and gender diversity is increasing.[31]

Tatchell's collaboration with public artist Martin Firrell to mark the 50th anniversary of the Gay Liberation Front in the UK (1970–2020)

Tatchell collaborated with public artist Martin Firrell to mark the 50th anniversary of the GLF in 2020. The artist's "Still Revolting" series drew on Tatchell's personal recollections of the GLF, quoting Tatchell's 1973 placard "Homosexuals Are Revolting" created by Tatchell for London Gay Pride. The artist's addition of the word 'still' reflects the truth that homosexuality is still regarded as intolerable by some and many LGBT+ people around the world are still struggling for acceptance, security and equality.[32]


After taking A levels at evening classes, he attended the Polytechnic of North London (PNL), now part of London Metropolitan University, where he obtained a 2:1 BSc (Hons) in sociology.

At PNL he was a member of the National Union of Students Gay Rights Campaign. On graduating he became a freelance journalist specialising in foreign stories, during which he publicised the Indonesian annexation of West Papua and child labour on British-owned tea farms in Malawi.[33]

Political activity[edit]

Tatchell with a rainbow flag, the international LGBT symbol

Tatchell popularised the phrase "sexual apartheid" to describe the separate laws that long existed for gays and heterosexuals.[34][35]

Labour candidate for Bermondsey[edit]

In 1978, Tatchell joined the Labour Party and moved to a council flat in Bermondsey, south-east London. At the Bermondsey Constituency Labour Party's (CLP) AGM in February 1980, the left group won control and Tatchell was elected Secretary.[36] When the sitting Labour Member of Parliament (MP), Bob Mellish, retired in 1981, Tatchell was selected as his successor, despite Arthur Latham, a former MP and former Chairman of the Tribune Group, being considered the favourite. While Militant was cited as the reason for Tatchell's selection, Tatchell disagrees and ascribes his selection to the support of the "older, 'born and bred' working class; the younger professional and intellectual members swung behind Latham".[37]

In an article for a left-wing magazine, Tatchell urged the Labour Party to support direct action campaigning to challenge the Margaret Thatcher-led Tory government, stating "we must look to new more militant forms of extra-parliamentary opposition which involve mass popular participation and challenge the government's right to rule".[38] Social Democratic Party MP James Wellbeloved, arguing the article was anti-Parliamentary, quoted it at Prime Minister's Questions in November 1981.[39] Foot denounced Tatchell, stating that he would not be endorsed as a candidate and a vote at the Labour Party National Executive Committee denied Tatchell's endorsement. However, the Bermondsey Labour Party continued to support him and it was eventually agreed that when the selection was rerun, Tatchell would be eligible, and he duly won. When Mellish resigned from Parliament and triggered a by-election, Tatchell's candidacy was endorsed, and the ensuing campaign was regarded as one of the most homophobic in modern British history.[40][41]

Tatchell was assaulted in the street, had his flat attacked, and had a death threat and a live bullet put through his letterbox in the night. Although the Bermondsey seat had long been a Labour stronghold, the Liberal candidate, Simon Hughes, won the election. During the campaign, Liberal canvassers were accused of stirring up homophobia on the doorsteps. Male Liberal workers campaigned wearing lapel badges with the words, "I've been kissed by Peter Tatchell" following the suggestion that he was attempting to hide his sexuality; this campaign was criticised by Roy Hattersley at a Labour news conference.[42] One of Hughes' campaign leaflets claimed the election was "a straight choice" between Liberal and Labour.[43] Hughes has since apologised for what may have been seen as an inadvertent slur and later came out as bisexual in 2006.[44]

Democratic Defence[edit]

Tatchell published the book Democratic Defence in 1985. In it, he outlined his suggestions for a defence policy for the United Kingdom after it underwent nuclear disarmament. Tatchell argued that Britain's military was primarily organised on a strategy of basing troops abroad rather than defending Britain itself from outside attacks, which he claimed was a legacy of the British Empire.[45]: 44–49 

Citing the difficulties that the British Army was facing in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, he argued that their current methods had proven ineffective against guerrilla warfare,[45]: 109–113  along with arguing for UK military personnel to be allowed to join trade unions and political parties,[45]: 80–87, 195–199  and to end strict adherence to "petty regulations".[45]: 73–75  He praised the Second World War-era British Home Guard as an example of a "citizens' army",[45]: 129–142  as well as the armed forces of Sweden, Switzerland and Yugoslavia as positive examples for the UK military to emulate.[45]: 99–109 

In the book, Tatchell also argued for a British withdrawal from NATO and for the establishment of a European Self-Defence Organisation, independent of both the United States, whom he felt that Europe had become too dependent on their military protection,[45]: 55–59  and the Soviet Union, which he condemned for their invasions of Czechoslovakia and of Afghanistan, as well its internal repression.[45]: 32–43, 199–201  He quoted with approval Enoch Powell's argument that the threat from the Soviet Union to Britain was greatly exaggerated.[45]: 36–38  The book was reviewed by the Times Literary Supplement in May 1985.[46]

Green issues[edit]

Tatchell at the Cowley Road Carnival in Oxford in July 2007

In February 2000, Tatchell resigned from Labour, citing the treatment of Ken Livingstone during the nomination of a candidate for Mayor of London, and of similar cases in the Scottish and Welsh elections, as evidence that the party "no longer has any mechanism for democratic involvement and transformation".[47] He fought unsuccessfully for a seat on the London Assembly as an Independent candidate within the Green Left grouping, in support of Livingstone.[48]

On 7 April 2004, he joined the Green Party of England and Wales but did not envisage standing for election. However, in 2007, he became the party's parliamentary candidate for Oxford East.[3] On 16 December 2009, he withdrew as a candidate claiming brain damage he says was caused by a bus accident as well as damage inflicted by Mugabe's bodyguards when Tatchell attempted to arrest him in 2001 in Brussels, and by neo-Nazis in Moscow.[6][49]

Tatchell opposes nuclear power; instead he advocates concentrated solar power.[50]

In Tribune, he pointed out the adverse effects of climate change: "By 2050, if climate change proceeds unchecked, England will no longer be a green and pleasant land. In between periods of prolonged scorching drought, we are likely to suffer widespread flooding."[51]

For many years, he supported a green–red alliance. More recently, he helped launch the Green Left grouping within the Green Party. He urged links between trade unions and the Greens. On 27 April 2010, he urged Green Party supporters to vote for Liberal Democrats in constituencies where they had an incumbent MP or a strong chance of winning.[52]

In August 2021, Tatchell endorsed Tamsin Omond and Amelia Womack in the 2021 Green Party of England and Wales leadership election.[53]

Iraq War[edit]

Tatchell opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and the subsequent occupation of Iraqi territory by Coalition forces. For nearly three decades, he had supported the Iraqi Left Opposition, an organization opposed to the government of Saddam Hussein due to human rights violations that Hussein had committed against democrats, left-wingers, trade unionists, Shia Muslims and the Kurdish people, and because under Saddam's dictatorship there were no opportunities for peaceful, democratic change.[54] He advocated military and financial aid to opponents of the Saddam government, suggesting that anti-Saddam organisations be given "tanks, helicopter gun-ships, fighter planes, heavy artillery and anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles".[55] While opposing western intervention, he advocated regime change from within in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran and Syria.[56] Tatchell has written that on 12 March 2003 he ambushed Tony Blair's motorcade in an anti-Iraq war protest. He forced Blair's limousine to stop, and then unfolded a banner that read "Arm the Kurds! Topple Saddam". He added that in terms of the political struggle within Britain (as opposed to struggles against absolute tyrants like Hitler and Saddam, where violent resistance can be the lesser of two evils): "I remain committed to the Gandhian principle of non-violence".[57] After the war he signed the 'Unite Against Terror' declaration, arguing that "the pseudo-left reveals its shameless hypocrisy and its wholesale abandonment of humanitarian values" by supporting resistance and insurgent groups in Iraq that resort to indiscriminate terrorism, killing innocent civilians.

In 2003, Tatchell said he supported giving "massive material aid" to Iraqi opposition groups, including the "Shi'ite Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq" (SCIRI), to bring down Saddam.[55] But in 2006 Tatchell noted that SCIRI had become markedly more fundamentalist and was endorsing violent attacks on anyone who did not conform to its increasingly harsh interpretation of Islam. He claimed that SCIRI, the leading force in Baghdad's ruling coalition, wanted to establish an Iranian-style religious dictatorship, with a goal of clerical fascism, and had engaged in "terrorisation of gay Iraqis", as well as terrorising Sunni Muslims, left-wingers, unveiled women and people who listen to western pop music or wear jeans or shorts.[58]

In September 2014, Tatchell advocated arming the Kurdistan Workers' Party to fight against ISIS, and argued that the US and EU had been wrong to designate it as a terrorist organisation.[59]

Syrian civil war[edit]

A previous supporter of the Stop the War Coalition, Tatchell and many other public personalities expressed concern with the coalition's allegedly unduly favourable view of Bashar al-Assad's government in Syria,[60] and has called for the Labour leader and former Stop the War Chair[61] Jeremy Corbyn not to attend the Coalition's Christmas fundraiser 2015.[62] In December 2016, Tatchell and others disrupted Corbyn's speech on human rights on the basis that the Labour leader had responded insufficiently to the bombing of Aleppo and urged him to condemn Russian military intervention in Syria.[63]


Since 2006, he expressed concern for the Baloch people facing military operations in their homeland, Balochistan in Pakistan.[64] From 2007 to 2009, he campaigned in defence of two UK-based Baloch Muslim human rights activists, Hyrbyair Marri and Faiz Baluch, accused of terrorism charges and tried in London. Both men were acquitted in 2009. He alleged collusion by the British and U.S. governments in regards to the suppression of the Balochs, including arms sales to Pakistan, which he says were used to bomb and attack Baloch towns and villages.[65]

Activities in Moscow[edit]

In May 2006, Tatchell attended the first Moscow Pride Festival. He appears in the documentary Moscow Pride '06 featuring this event.

In May 2007, Tatchell returned to Moscow to support Moscow Pride and to voice his opposition to a ban on the march, staying at the flat of an American diplomat. On 27 May 2007, Tatchell and other gay rights activists were attacked. He was punched in the face and nearly knocked unconscious, while other demonstrators were beaten, kicked and assaulted.[66] A German MP, Volker Beck, and a European Parliament deputy from Italy, Marco Cappato, were also punched before being arrested and questioned by police.[67] Tatchell later said "I'm not deterred one iota from coming back to protest in Moscow."[68] On his release, Tatchell made a report on the incident to the American Embassy.

On 16 May 2009, the day of the final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow, Russian gay rights activists staged a protest in Moscow in defiance of the city's mayor, Yuri Luzkhov, who had long banned gay demonstrations and denounced them as "satanic".[69] Tatchell was among 32 campaigners arrested when they shouted slogans and unfurled banners.[70][71][72]

NUS politics[edit]

On 14 February 2015, Tatchell was one of a number of signatories to a letter criticising the trend in the National Union of Students to apply a No Platform policy to feminists who criticised the sex industry or challenged demands made by certain groups of trans people.[73] In particular, the letter cited the denial of a platform to Kate Smurthwaite at Goldsmiths College and to Germaine Greer at the University of Cambridge.[73]

Tatchell received death threats after signing the letter.[74] He later stated that he would have worded the letter differently to clarify that he supported the human rights of trans people and sex workers, but that he had signed the letter nonetheless because he believed in the message of free speech on campuses.[74] He said that the initial draft that he signed contained the sentence "Some of us have disagreements with the views expressed [by feminist critics of trans people]", and that he was "not happy" that this was cut out of the final letter.[74]

On 13 February 2016, Fran Cowling, the national LGBT representative for the NUS, refused to share a platform with Tatchell at Canterbury Christ Church University to discuss the topic of "re-radicalising queers".[75] Cowling said that Tatchell supported speakers who are "openly transphobic and incite violence" against transgender people, and also that Tatchell had used "racist language".[76] Tatchell responded that no evidence could be produced to support either claim, and that Cowling had never consulted the NUS membership before deciding to make pronouncements on their behalf, and said, "This sorry, sad saga is symptomatic of the decline of free and open debate on some university campuses. There is a witch-hunting, accusatory atmosphere. Allegations are made without evidence to back them—or worse, they are made citing false, trumped-up evidence."[77]


Tatchell being interviewed by Natalie Thorne, deputy editor of Fyne Times, at a 'First Sunday' event, November 2007


Tatchell took part in many gay rights campaigns over issues such as Section 28. Following the murder of actor Michael Boothe on 10 May 1990, Tatchell was one of thirty people to attend the inaugural meeting of the radical gay rights non-violent direct action group OutRage!—although he was not a co-founder—and has remained a leading member.[78] The group fuses theatrical performance styles with queer protest. As the most prominent OutRage! member, Tatchell is sometimes assumed to be the leader of the group, though he has never claimed this, saying he is one among equals.[79]

In 1991, a small group of OutRage! members covertly formed a separate group to engage in a campaign of outing public figures who were homophobic in public but gay in private. The group took the name FROCS (Faggots Rooting Out Closeted Sexuality). Tatchell was the group's go-between with the press, forwarding their news statements to his media contacts. Considerable publicity and public debate followed FROCS's threat to out 200 leading public personalities from the world of politics, religion, business and sport. With Tatchell's assistance, members of FROCS eventually called a press conference to tell the world that their campaign was a hoax intended to demonstrate the hypocrisy of those newspapers that had condemned the campaign despite having themselves outed celebrities and politicians.[80]

Some OutRage! activities were highly controversial. In 1994, it unveiled placards inviting ten Church of England bishops to "tell the truth" about what Outrage! alleged was their homosexuality and accusing them of condemning homosexuality in public while leading secret gay lives. Shortly afterwards the group wrote to twenty UK MPs, condemning their alleged support for anti-gay laws and claiming they would out them if the MPs did not stop what they described as attacks on the gay community. The MP Sir James Kilfedder, one such opponent of gay equality,[81] who had received one of the letters,[82] died two months later of a sudden heart attack on the day one of the Belfast newspapers planned to out him.[83][81] In a comment in The Independent in October 2003, Tatchell claimed the OutRage! action against the bishops was his greatest mistake because he failed to anticipate that the media and the church would treat it as an invasion of privacy.

On 12 April 1998, Tatchell led an OutRage! protest, which disrupted the Easter sermon by George Carey, the Archbishop of Canterbury, with Tatchell mounting the pulpit to denounce what he claimed was Carey's opposition to legal equality for lesbian and gay people. The protest garnered media coverage and led to Tatchell's prosecution under the little-used Ecclesiastical Courts Jurisdiction Act 1860 (formerly part of the Brawling Act 1551), which prohibits any form of disruption or protest in a church.[84][85] Tatchell failed in his attempt to summon Carey as a witness and was convicted. The judge fined him the trivial sum of £18.60, which commentators theorised was a wry allusion to the year of the statute used to convict him.[86][87]

The LGBT press dubbed him "Saint Peter Tatchell" following further OutRage! campaigns involving religion.[88]

A number of African LGBTI leaders signed a statement condemning the involvement of Tatchell and OutRage! in African issues,[89] which led Tatchell to respond that he favoured working with the radical LGBTI groups in Africa rather than the more conservative (according to him) leaders who had signed the statement. Tatchell and OutRage! published a refutation of the allegations.[90]

OutRage!'s protest against Chief Rabbi Immanuel Jakobovits, who supported the idea of genetic engineering to eliminate homosexuality,[91] led to accusations that Tatchell was antisemitic, following OutRage!'s leaflets citing the similarity of Jakobovits ideas for the eradication of homosexuality to those of Heinrich Himmler were distributed outside the Western and Marble Arch Synagogue on Rosh Hashanah in September 1993.

Rabbi Dame Julia Neuberger, who had campaigned for gay rights, said "Drawing a comparison between Lord Jakobovits and Himmler is offensive, racist and [...] makes OutRage appear antisemitic". She stated that the action and leaflet would "alienate Jews who are sympathetic to gay rights".[92]

Stop Murder Music campaign[edit]

Tatchell argues that a number of Afro-Caribbean artists produce music that glorifies murder of homosexual men, and incites violence against homosexuals. He argued that British laws against incitement to violence were not being enforced on foreign artists performing in the UK. He also organised protests outside the concerts of singers whose lyrics he says incite violence, mainly Jamaican dancehall and ragga artists who he says glorify violence toward lesbians and gay men, including murder. Tatchell's campaign began in 1992 when Buju Banton's song "Boom bye-bye" was released. He has picketed the MOBO Awards ceremony to protest at their inviting performers of what he terms "murder music".[93]

Tatchell argues that murder is not legal in Jamaica, and glorification of murder is not a legitimate form of Afro-Caribbean culture.[94] In response Tatchell received death threats and was labelled racist. He defended himself by noting that the campaign was at the behest of the Jamaican gay rights group J-Flag, and the UK-based Black Gay Men's Advisory Group, with which he works closely. He pointed to what he described as his life's work campaigning against racism and apartheid and stated that his campaigns against "murder music" and state-sanctioned homophobic violence in Jamaica were endorsed by black Jamaican gay rights activists such as Jamaican Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG), and by many straight human rights activists in Jamaica (male homosexuality remains illegal in Jamaica). The campaign has had positive effects with seven of eight original murder music singers signing the Reggae Compassion Act, which says that signatories will not "make statements or perform songs" that incite hatred or violence.[95]

Members of the Rastafari movement accused Tatchell of racism and extremism, saying, "He has gone over way over the top. It's simply racist to put Hitler and Sizzla in the same bracket and just shows how far he is prepared to go."[96] Tatchell denies equating Sizzla with Hitler.[97]

Age of consent laws and Paedophile Information Exchange[edit]

In 1996, Tatchell led an OutRage! campaign to reduce the age of consent in the UK to 14 years, to adjust for studies that showed nearly half of all young people had their first sexual experiences prior to 16 years old, regardless of sexuality. He stated that he wished to exempt these people from being "treated as criminals by the law", and that the campaign claimed there should be no prosecution if the difference in ages of the sexual partners was no more than three years, provided that these youths are given a more comprehensive sex education at a younger date.[98]

He was quoted in the OutRage!'s press release as saying "Young people have a right to accept or reject sex, according to what they feel is appropriate for them".[99]

Tatchell has since reiterated that he does not condone adults having sex with children. On his personal website, under the subsection Age of Consent, he writes:

My articles urging an age of consent of 14 are motivated solely by a desire to reduce the criminalisation of under-16s who have consenting relationships with other young people of similar ages. I do not support adults having sex with children. I do not advocate teenagers having sex before the age of 16. But if they do have sex before their 16th birthday, they should not be arrested, given a criminal record and put on the sex offenders register.[100]

On 10 March 2008, in the Irish Independent, he repeated his call for a lower age of consent to end the criminalisation of young people engaged in consenting sex and to remove the legal obstacles to upfront sex education, condom provision and safer sex advice.[101] In 1998 and 2008, he supported relaxation of the then strict laws against pornography, arguing that pornography can have some social benefits, and he has criticised what he calls the body-shame phobia against nudism, suggesting that nudity may be natural and healthy for society.[102][103]

In 2006, he opposed the appointment of Ruth Kelly as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government as Kelly had not supported equal treatment of lesbians and gay men in any parliamentary votes. Tatchell said "her appointment suggests the government does not take lesbian and gay rights seriously", adding "Tony Blair would never appoint someone to a race-equality post who had a lukewarm record of opposing racism".[104]

Paedophile Information Exchange[edit]

Tatchell has written an obituary in The Independent for Paedophile Information Exchange founder Ian Dunn.[105] He later stated:

I had no idea that [Middleton] was involved in paedophilia advocacy when I was asked to write my essay. ... When I was invited to write a chapter, I was told it was a book about children's rights and asked if I could write about the age of consent. It seemed a reasonable request at the time. My chapter in the book did not endorse child sex. It merely questioned whether 16 was the appropriate legal age of consent. Different people mature at different ages. There are many countries that have diverse ages of consent, some higher and some lower than 16. I did not advocate the abolition of the age of consent or specify at what age sex should become lawful. I was not aware of who the other authors were or what they wrote until the book was published. I would not have agreed to be in the book if I had known. ... There is nothing in my contribution that even remotely condones child sex abuse. ...

Neither I nor most other people had any knowledge of [Dunn's] link with [Paedophile Information Exchange] at the time. I only found out many years after I wrote his obituary. I would not have written it if I had known about his PIE work.[106]

In July 2021, in an article by Hayley Dixon, Melanie Newman and Julie Bindel for the Daily Telegraph,[107] it emerged that a positive review attributed to Peter Tatchell of the same pro-paedophilia book – Betrayal of Youth: Radical Perspectives on Childhood Sexuality, Intergenerational Sex and the Social Oppression of Children and Young People – appeared in the June 1987 edition of 7 Days, the newsletter of the Communist Party of Great Britain.

He also commented on an interview he conducted in the late 1990s on the subject of paedophilia and child prostitution, in which he interviewed a 14-year-old boy (under the pseudonym "Lee") who had had sex with older men, in some cases for money. In this interview, Tatchell makes various counterarguments against Lee's point of view, such as: "How can a young child understand sex and give meaningful consent?", "Perhaps your friends were particularly mature for their age. Most young people are not so sophisticated about sex", "Many people worry that the power imbalance in a relationship between a youth and an adult means the younger person can be easily manipulated and exploited", "Many people fear that making sex easier for under-age teenagers will expose them to dangers like HIV. Isn't that a legitimate worry?"[106][108]

In 1997, Tatchell wrote a letter to The Guardian, defending an academic book about "boy-love", calling the work "courageous", before writing:

The positive nature of some child–adult sexual relationships is not confined to non-Western cultures. Several of my friends—gay and straight, male and female—had sex with adults from the ages of nine to 13. None feel they were abused. All say it was their conscious choice and gave them great joy. While it may be impossible to condone paedophilia, it is time society acknowledged the truth that not all sex involving children is unwanted, abusive and harmful.[109]

On Tatchell's personal website he clarifies,

My Guardian letter cited examples of youths in Papuan tribes and some of my friends who, when they were under 16, had sex with adults (over 18s), but who do not feel they were harmed. I was not endorsing their viewpoint but merely stating that they had a different perspective from the mainstream opinion about inter-generational sex. They have every right for their perspective to be heard.[106]

Following the publication of a photo of Tatchell alongside the Irish Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O'Gorman, on Twitter, at a Pride event, O'Gorman issued a statement outlining that the apparent views in Tatchell's letter—written 23 years ago, when O'Gorman was just 15—were "abhorrent" to him, and his appreciation that Tatchell clarified his own position.[110][111]

Civil partnerships[edit]

Tatchell has pledged his support for opposite-sex couples to be allowed to have civil partnerships,[112][113] stating that some opposite-sex couples dislike the "sexist, homophobic history of [the institution of] marriage", and allowing them into civil partnerships "is simply a matter of equality".[114]

Writing for PinkNews, he said:

David Cameron has betrayed the principle of equality by refusing to allow opposite-sex couples to have a civil partnership. His government is maintaining legal discrimination against straight partners. ... Not everyone wants to get married, given that marriage has a long sexist and homophobic history. ... Some LGBT and straight people don't like the sexist, homophobic traditions of marriage. They'd prefer a civil partnership; believing it to be more equal and without the historical baggage that goes with matrimony. They should have the choice of a civil partnership if they wish. Marriage should not be the only option. Couples should not be forced to marry to get legal recognition and rights. They should have the alternative option of a civil partnership.[112]

Foreign politics[edit]


While still at school, Tatchell campaigned in favour of better treatment of, and full human rights for, Aboriginal Australians.[19] He has opined that Australian cities should be renamed with their original Aboriginal place names. For example, he wants the Tasmanian capital Hobart to be renamed Nibberluna, arguing that this would be a fitting tribute to Australia's Aboriginal heritage, which he claims has been discarded and disrespected for too long.[115]

Tatchell participated in the mass Vietnam Moratorium protests in Melbourne in 1970. The same year, Tatchell founded and was elected secretary of the inter-denominational anti-war movement, Christians for Peace.[116] Later, upon moving to London in 1971, he was active in solidarity work with the independence movements in Mozambique,[117] and Guinea-Bissau.[118]

In 2002, he brought an unsuccessful legal action in Bow Street Magistrate's Court for the arrest of the former U.S. Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, on charges of war crimes in Vietnam and Cambodia.[119]


Part of Tatchell's political activism and journalism in the 1970s involved the Rhodesian Bush War, in which he supported the black nationalist movement, including the Zimbabwe African National Union and its military wing. Mugabe's denunciation of male homosexuality in 1995 led Tatchell to help organise a protest for LGBT rights in Zimbabwe outside the Zimbabwe High Commission in London.

Two years later, he passed through police security disguised as a TV cameraman to quiz Mugabe during the "Africa at 40" conference at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster. Mugabe told him that allegations of human rights abuses were grossly exaggerated; he became agitated when Tatchell told him that he was gay. Mugabe's minders summoned Special Branch guards, who ejected Tatchell. On 26 October 1997 a letter from Tatchell to The Observer argued that the United Kingdom should suspend aid to Zimbabwe because of its violence against LGBT people.[120]

Tatchell researched the Gukurahundi attacks in Matabeleland in the 1980s, when the Zimbabwean Fifth Brigade attacked supporters of the Zimbabwe African Peoples Union. He became convinced that Mugabe had broken international human rights law during the attack, which is estimated to have involved the massacre of around 20,000 civilians. Then in 1999, journalists Mark Chavunduka and Ray Choto were tortured by the Zimbabwe Army. The arrest of Augusto Pinochet in London seemed to him a precedent that human rights violations could be pursued against a head of state, thanks to the principle of universal jurisdiction. On 30 October 1999 Tatchell and three other OutRage! activists approached Mugabe's car in a London street and attempted to perform a citizen's arrest. Tatchell opened the car door and grabbed Mugabe. He then called the police. The four OutRage! activists were arrested, on charges including criminal damage, assault and breach of the peace; charges were dropped on the opening day of their trial. Mugabe responded by describing Tatchell and his OutRage! colleagues as "gay gangsters", a slogan frequently repeated by his supporters, and claimed they had been sent by the United Kingdom government.[121]

On 5 March 2001, when Mugabe visited Brussels, Tatchell again attempted a citizen's arrest. Mugabe's bodyguards were seen knocking him to the floor. Later that day, Tatchell was briefly knocked unconscious by Mugabe's bodyguards and was left with permanent damage to his right eye. The protest drew worldwide headlines, as Mugabe was highly unpopular in the Western world for his land redistribution policy. Tatchell's actions were praised by Zimbabwean activists and many of the newspapers that had previously denounced him.[122]

Tatchell ultimately failed in his attempt to secure an international arrest warrant against Mugabe on torture charges. The magistrate argued that Mugabe had immunity from prosecution as a serving head of state.

In late 2003, Tatchell acted as a press spokesman for the launch of the Zimbabwe Freedom Movement (ZFM), which claimed to be a clandestine group within Zimbabwe committed to overthrowing the Mugabe government by force. The civic action support group Sokwanele urged Tatchell to check his sources, speculating that it might have been by the Zimbabwe government to justify violent action.[123] This speculation proved to be unfounded. The Mugabe regime dismissed the ZFM as a hoax. However, two Central Intelligence Organization members were spotted and turned away from the ZFM launch, as shown in the film Peter Tatchell: Just who does he think he is? by Max Barber.

South Africa[edit]

Following a protest against the ANC, Tatchell described himself as a long-time anti-apartheid activist,[124] in an essay for the book Sex and Politics in South Africa, he claimed that his lobbying of the ANC in 1987 contributed to it renouncing homophobia and making its first public commitment to lesbian and gay human rights and that in 1989 and 1990, he helped persuade the ANC to include a ban on anti-gay discrimination in the post-apartheid constitution (claiming he assisted in drafting model clauses for the ANC).[125]

After Tatchell was named as one of the UK's most "hate filled bigots" in the Desi Express newspaper, Aaron Saeed, Muslim Affairs spokesperson for the gay human rights group OutRage!, claimed that Tatchell was involved in the anti-apartheid movement for over 20 years.[126]

Gaza and the West Bank[edit]

In May 2004, he and a dozen other lesbians and gay men from OutRage! and the Queer Youth Network joined a London demonstration organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Their placards read "Israel: stop persecuting Palestine! Palestine: stop persecuting queers!". Tatchell claims that others present accused him of being a Mossad agent sent to disrupt the march, of being a racist or a Zionist, a supporter of Ariel Sharon or an agent of the Central Intelligence Agency or MI5.[127] Tatchell has written a number of articles in The Guardian on the issue.[128][129]

2008 Olympics[edit]

In April 2008, Tatchell attempted to disrupt the procession of the Olympic torch though London. As a protest against China's human rights record he stood in front of the bus carrying the torch along Oxford Street while carrying a placard calling on Beijing to "Free Tibet, Free Hu Jia" (the name of a recently jailed human rights activist). Tatchell was taken away by police but was not charged.[130] In an interview Tatchell called on the world to boycott the opening ceremony of the Olympics, or to take other visible action.[130]


Tatchell is a critic of Iran's criminal code, which has parts based on sharia and prescribes punishments for zina offenses, including consensual sexual relations between same-sex partners.[131]

In 2005, Iran executed two teenagers, Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni, aged 16 and 18, accused of raping a 13-year-old boy at knifepoint. Tatchell argued that Iran has a history of arresting political activists on false charges and extracting false confessions from death penalty convicts, and declared that he believed the original crime was consensual sex between the two, which is illegal in Iran. Tatchell reiterated his long-standing view that Iran is an "Islamo-fascist state". He argued that information from Iranian exile groups with contacts inside Iran was that the teenagers were a secret gay party before they were arrested.

International human rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch preferred campaigners to focus on Iran violating the Convention on the Rights of the Child (which forbids the execution of juveniles) rather than the weak allegation of consensual sex.[132]

Faisal Alam, founder of American Gay Muslim group Al-Fatiha, argued in the magazine Queer that Iran was condemned before the facts were certain.[133]


Tatchell has written articles condemning the Russian LGBT propaganda law.[134][135] In 2014 Tatchell protested Valery Gergiev's support for Vladimir Putin.[136]

Tatchell protested the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi over the gay rights stance of Russia, comparing the event to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.[137]

Tatchell was arrested at the Moscow Pride parade in 2011 amid a spate of anti-gay violence by neo-Nazis.[138]

In February 2007, the Mayor of Moscow, Yury Luzhkov, visited London mayor Ken Livingstone for an annual meeting that also involved the Mayors of Berlin and Paris, with the mayor of Beijing present as well. Nikolay Alexeyev, one of the organizers of the Moscow gay pride parade, joined Tatchell in protesting the visit.[139] A notice of the protest quoted Talgat Tadzhuddin saying that the Moscow pride marchers should be flogged.

Livingstone asserted that he supports gay rights, and said "In Moscow the Russian Orthodox church, the chief rabbi and the grand Mufti all supported the ban on the Gay Pride march with the main role, due to its great weight in society, being played by the Orthodox church. The attempt of Mr Tatchell to focus attention on the role of the grand Mufti in Moscow, in the face of numerous attacks on gay rights in Eastern Europe, which overwhelmingly come from right-wing Christian and secular currents, is a clear example of an Islamophobic campaign."[140]

Tatchell retorted that Livingstone's remarks were "dishonest, despicable nonsense", adding "The Grand Mufti was not singled out". He further said the Mayor had brought his "office into disrepute" and "has revealed himself to be a person without principles, honesty or integrity."[141]


Following the vote by the Knesset, the Israeli legislature, in 2007 in favour of bills to ban lesbian and gay pride parades in Jerusalem, the Lesbian and Gay Coalition Against Racism criticised Tatchell, saying:

Peter Tatchell and others who have distinguished themselves by the speed of their quite proper defence of lesbian and gay rights when these have been attacked by Black, Arab, Muslim forces or regimes have still refused to condemn with equal force the official attacks on lesbian and gay rights by the highest institutions of the State of Israel.

Tatchell issued a statement opposing any boycott of Israel as a result of this.[142]

In a 2009 article for The Guardian, Tatchell condemned what he described as "disproportionate" and "reckless" attacks by the Israeli military on Gaza, but also argued that Western liberals and progressives should not support Hamas which he described as an Islamist group that represses Palestinians and is "potentially as much of a threat to Palestinian freedom as Israel is today."[143]

Anglican and Catholic churches[edit]

Tatchell behind Richard Dawkins, protesting Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the United Kingdom

Tatchell criticised the Catholic Church and Pope Benedict XVI, whom he described as "the ideological inheritor of Nazi homophobia".[144] "He'd like to eradicate homosexuality, but since he can't put LGBT people in physical concentration camps, is doing his best to put them in psychological concentration camps."[144]

Channel 4 indicated in June 2010 that Tatchell would be the presenter of a documentary film examining "the current Pope's teachings throughout the world".[145] The plans sparked criticism from some prominent British Catholics including Conservative politician Ann Widdecombe, who accused Channel 4 of trying to "stir up controversy". Tatchell asserted that the documentary "will not be an anti-Catholic programme".[145]

On 15 September 2010, Tatchell, along with 54 other public figures, signed an open letter, published in The Guardian, stating their opposition to Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the United Kingdom.[146]

With respect to Anglicanism, he stated that "it's very sad to see a good man like the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, going to such extraordinary lengths to appease homophobes within the Anglican Communion".[147]

In 2017, Tatchell praised the Church of England's new 'Valuing all God's Children' scheme for schools, which seeks to stop homophobic and transphobic bullying.[148]


Tatchell has occasionally been moderately critical of multiculturalism. In 2010, he gave a speech to the Libertarian Alliance at the National Liberal Club[149] arguing that the British people are increasingly "fragmented according to their different and sometimes competing identities, values, and traditions. These differences are prioritised over shared experiences and interests. Our common needs and the universalities of human rights are downplayed in favour of religious and racial particularities."

Free speech[edit]

In 2006, during the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy, Tatchell spoke at a 25 March 2006 rally called the Freedom of Expression Rally.[150]

At the rally, Tatchell argued for the "disestablishment of the Church of England and the freedom to insult the Queen, Prime Minister and Archbishop of Canterbury". Tatchell said that "Mired in the immoral morass of cultural relativism, they [the far left] no longer endorse Enlightenment values and universal human rights. Their support for free speech is now qualified by so many ifs and buts. When push comes to shove, it is more or less worthless."[151]

In 2007, he wrote an opinion piece in The Guardian arguing that "The best way to tackle prejudice is by presenting facts and using reasoned arguments, to break down ignorance and ill-will."[152] In 2016, Tatchell made threats to free speech in Britain the topic of his British Humanist Association annual conference lecture. Speaking with reference to a number of censorship controversies in the 2010s, he said that "the recent trend against freedom of speech means that we must fight the battles of the Enlightenment all over again."[153]

However, in 2018, Tatchell voiced his support for Mark Meechan's conviction under section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 for posting a "grossly offensive" video on YouTube.[154]


Tatchell is critical of Islam, and first wrote about its presence in Britain in 1995.[155] In 1995, he wrote that "although not all Muslims are anti-gay, significant numbers are violently homophobic [...] homophobic Muslim voters may be able to influence the outcome of elections in 20 or more marginal constituencies."[156] He is critical of the UK government's All-Party Parliamentary Group definition of Islamophobia, suggesting that he tries "to avoid the term", that Muslimness is a vague and subjective term, and that the Islamophobia term is a "a de facto threat to free speech and liberal values" and "virtue-signalling".[157]

Tatchell has described the entire Sharia, which is the moral code that Muslims try to live by, as "a clerical form of fascism"[158] and was the keynote speaker at a 2005 protest at the Canadian High Commission, demanding that Ontario's arbitration law, which permitted religious arbitration in civil cases for Jews and Christians, not be extended to Muslims.[159]

In 2017, Tatchell wrote to the organisers of Pride in London to defend the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain.[160] In response to calls by the East London Mosque for CEMB to apologise for placards alleging the mosque "incites murder of LGBTs",[161] Tatchell stated "East London Mosque has refused all dialogue with LGBT community. It refuses to meet LGBT Muslims. I have asked them 11 times since 2015".[162]

Tatchell has previously condemned Islamophobia, saying "any form of prejudice, hatred, discrimination or violence against Muslims is wrong. Full stop".[163] He described the Qur'an as "rather mild in its condemnation of homosexuality".[164]

He points out that much of his prison and asylum casework involves supporting Muslim prisoners and asylum seekers—heterosexual as well as LGBT. In 2006, he helped stop the abuse of Muslim prisoners at a Norwich jail and helped secure parole for other Muslim detainees.[165] Half his asylum cases are, he reports, male and female Muslim refugees. Two of his highest-profile campaigns involved Muslim victims—Mohamed S, who was framed by men who first tried to kill him and then jailed him for eight years, and Sid Saeed, who brought a racism and homophobic harassment case against Deutsche Bank.[166][167]

Tatchell chose Malcolm X as his specialist subject when appearing on Celebrity Mastermind, explaining that he considered him an inspiration and hero (his other inspirations are Mahatma Gandhi, Sylvia Pankhurst and Martin Luther King Jr.). However, his endorsement of Bruce Perry's biography, in an article calling for black gay role models,[168] led to criticism.[169] due to Perry's claim that Malcolm X had male lovers in his youth.[170]

In February 2010, Women Against Fundamentalism defended Tatchell against allegations of Islamophobia and endorsed his right to challenge all religious fundamentalism: "WAF supports the right of Peter Tatchell and numerous other gay activists to oppose the legitimisation of fundamentalists and other right wing forces on university campuses, by the Left and by the government in its Preventing Violent Extremism strategy and numerous other programmes and platforms".[171]

Muslim Council of Britain[edit]

Tatchell had described the Muslim Council of Britain as being "anti-gay",[172] asking how can "they expect to win respect for their community, if at the same time as demanding action against Islamophobia, they themselves demand the legal enforcement of homophobia?".[163] He noted that the MCB had joined forces with the "rightwing Christian Institute" to oppose every gay law reform from 1997 to 2006. In January 2006, the MCB Chairman Iqbal Sacranie said that homosexuals are immoral, harmful and diseased on BBC Radio 4.[173]

Tatchell argued that "Both the Muslim and gay communities suffer prejudice and discrimination. We should stand together to fight Islamophobia and homophobia". Tatchell subsequently criticised Unite Against Fascism for inviting Sacranie to share its platforms, describing him as a "homophobic hate-mongerer."[174]

When the MCB boycotted Holocaust Memorial Day, partly because it was "not sufficiently inclusive",[175] Tatchell wrote that "the only thing that is consistent about the MCB is its opposition to the human rights of lesbians and gay men".[176]

Muslims and gay rights[edit]

In 2006, Tatchell wrote an opinion column in The Guardian arguing that Muslims deliberately conflate offence with violence, in an effort to suppress Muslim reformers in Britain.[164] He argued that Islamist groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir in Britain see "any criticism of Islam is an insult and that all such insults are unacceptable" in order to suppress the "free exchange of ideas". The Muslim gay rights organisation IMAAN criticised Tatchell, saying, "OutRage! doesn't understand our cultural and religious sensitivities. Often, the way they word and phrase their press releases can and does antagonise Muslims. Much as we’ve invited them to meetings so we can talk about the best way to tackle Muslim LGBT issues, they insist on doing things their way."[177]

In the book "Out of Place: Interrogating Silences in Queerness/Raciality", in a chapter called "Gay Imperialism: Gender and Sexuality Discourse in the 'War on Terror'", Jin Haritaworn, Tamsila Tauqir and Esra Erdem wrote, "rather than help, politics such as Tatchell's have worsened the situation for the majority of queer Muslims. It has become increasingly difficult for groups such as the Safra Project, who are forced into the frontline of the artificially constructed gay v. Muslim divide, to contest sexual oppression in Muslim communities. The more homophobia is constructed as belonging to Islam, the more anti-homophobic talk will be viewed as a white, even racist, phenomenon, and the harder it will be to increase tolerance and understanding among straight Muslims [...] The dialogue which Safra and other queer Muslim groups have long sought over this is more often than not ignored or disregarded, and white gay activists such as Tatchell have proved indifferent to the fact that the mud which they sling onto Muslim communities lands on queer Muslims themselves."[178]

Despite previously attending a "rally for free expression", where the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons were celebrated, Tatchell sued the small publisher Raw Nerve Books, who issued an apology, and replaced links to the book on their site with that apology, but were later forced to shut down. The Monthly Review described this as censorship, adding, "the violent suppression of "Gay Imperialism" and the book in which it appeared also works as a warning to the authors, editors, and other critics and potential critics of Tatchell to better keep their mouths shut."[179]

Yusuf al-Qaradawi[edit]

In July 2004, then-Mayor of London Ken Livingstone invited Yusuf al-Qaradawi to attend a talk called "A woman's right to choose" about the wearing of the hijab. Livingstone had read positive coverage of Qaradawi in The Guardian and The Sun.[180]

In October 2004, 2,500 Muslim academics from 23 countries condemned Qaradawi, and accused him of giving "Islam a bad name and foster[ing] hatred among civilizations" and "providing a religious cover for terrorism".[181]

Tatchell argued that Qaradawi expresses liberal positions to deceive the Western press and politicians, while being "rightwing, misogynist, anti-semitic and homophobic",[182] using his books and fatwas to advocate female genital mutilation, blame for rape victims who dress immodestly, and the execution of apostates, homosexuals, and women who have sex outside marriage.

Livingstone issued a 2005 dossier praising Qaradawi as a moderate,[183] based on positive press coverage he had received previously. Livingstone pronounced that Tatchell has "a long history of Islamophobia", and asserted that he is in a "de facto alliance with the American neo-cons and Israeli intelligence services."[182] Tatchell strenuously denied the accusations, pointing out that he has never said any of the things that Livingstone accused him of saying. Livingstone continued to describe Qaradawi as "one of the leading progressive voices in the Muslim world" in 2010, after having been denied entry to the UK for his extremist views.[184]

Two years after condemning Tatchell,[185] Livingstone stated he "probably shouldn't" have called Tatchell an "Islamophobe".[180]

Adam Yosef[edit]

In December 2005, Respect Party activist Adam Yosef came under criticism for an article in Desi Xpress opposing registered civil partnerships. He asserted that Tatchell needed "a good slap in the face" and his "queer campaign army" should "pack their bent bags and head back to Australia". Desi Xpress staff expressed regret to Tatchell and gave him a right of reply, while Yosef apologised and retracted his article, claiming the "slap in the face" remark was a "figure of speech" and the remark about Australia was not racist.[186] Yosef later backed Tatchell's 2009 election campaign.[187][188]

Secondary issues[edit]

Environmental issues[edit]

For over 20 years, Tatchell has written and campaigned about environmental problems including global warming and resource depletion, pointing out that they often have a disproportionately negative impact on developing countries. In the late 1980s, he was co-organiser of the Green and Socialist Conferences, which sought to ally reds and greens. He championed energy conservation and renewable energy; in particular tidal, wave and concentrated solar power. On 24 May 2009, he appeared on the BBC Daily Politics programme to oppose the Elephant and Castle regeneration scheme, which he said would bring few benefits to local working-class people. However, most of his campaigning continues to be in the areas of human rights and "queer emancipation".[189]

In August 2008 Tatchell wrote about speculative theories concerning possible atmospheric oxygen depletion compared to prehistoric levels, and called for further investigation to test such claims and, if proven, their long-term consequences.[190]

Animal rights[edit]

Tatchell is an active supporter of animal rights, saying "human rights and animal rights are two aspects of the same struggle against injustice",[191] and that he advocates for a "claim to be spared suffering and offered inalienable rights" for both humans and animals.[192]


Tatchell campaigned on the issue of the constitutional status of Cornwall. In November 2008, The Guardian carried an article by him entitled Self-rule for Cornwall,[193] in which he said:

Like Wales and Scotland, Cornwall considers itself a separate Celtic nation—so why shouldn't it have independence? [...] [Cornish] Nationalists argue that Cornwall is a subjugated nation, in much the same way that Scotland and Wales once were. Not only is the historic Cornish flag—a white cross on a black background—excluded from the Union Jack; until not so long ago Cornish people needed planning permission to fly it. Comparisons with Scotland and Wales are valid. After all, Cornwall has all the basic cultural attributes of a nation: its own distinct Celtic language, history, festivals, cuisine, music, dance and sports. Many Cornish people perceive themselves to be other than English. Despite the government's resistance, under [the] Commission for Racial Equality and Council of Europe guidelines, they qualify for recognition as a national minority. [...] Cornwall was once separate and self-governing. If the Cornish people want autonomy and it would improve their lives, why shouldn't they have self-rule once again? Malta, with only 400,000 people, is an independent state within the EU. Why not Cornwall?[193]

This article received the largest number of comments to any Guardian article, according to This is Cornwall.[194] Over 1,500 comments were made, and while some comments were supportive, Tatchell found himself "shocked and disgusted" by the anti-Cornish sentiment shown by many commenters.[194]

Columnist and other pursuits[edit]

Tatchell has written numerous articles in newspapers and magazines related to his various campaigns. He was highly critical of the media coverage of the Admiral Duncan pub bombing, claiming than the homophobic attitudes of news outlets had helped fuel the attack,[195] and that the press concerned themselves almost exclusively with the one heterosexual victim, rather than the two other deaths and the dozens of maimed patrons, saying that:

As soon as it became known that not all the victims of the blast were gay, the media suddenly de-gayed its coverage by focusing almost exclusively on the heterosexual victims. The News of the World led with "Pregnant wife killed", and The Sun reassured its readers that "the victims were certainly not all gay". Nik Moore, the gay man who died, was not even mentioned in The Mail on Sunday, and he was relegated to a footnote in The Mirror.[196]

In 1987 Tatchell appeared on the second programme of the first series of After Dark, a discussion on press ethics with, among others, Tony Blackburn, Victoria Gillick, Johnny Edgecombe and a Private Eye journalist.[197]

On 5 August 1995 Tatchell was interviewed at length by Andrew Neil on his one-on-one interview show Is This Your Life?, made by Open Media for Channel 4.[198]

As of 2009, he has been an Ambassador for the penal reform group, Make Justice Work.[199]

In 2011, he became the Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation.[200]

Tatchell is a patron of Humanists UK, an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society [201] and a committed secularist, saying, "As an atheist, secularist and humanist I believe that reason, science and ethics—not religious superstition—are the best way to understand the world and promote human rights and welfare."[202]

He contributes to The Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio 2.[203]


In 2006, New Statesman readers voted him sixth on their list of "Heroes of our time".[204][205]

In 2009, he racked up multiple awards. He was named Campaigner of the Year in The Observer Ethical Awards, London Citizen of Sanctuary Award, Shaheed Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti Award (for reporting the Balochistan national liberation struggle), Evening Standard 1000 Most Influential Londoners (winning again in 2011), Liberal Voice of the Year and a Blue Plaque in recognition of his more than 40 years of human rights campaigning.[206]

In 2010 he won Total Politics Top 50 Political Influencers. A diary journalist reported rumours that he had been recommended for the award of a life peerage in the British New Year Honours. He was said to have turned it down.[207]

In 2012, the National Secular Society awarded Tatchell Secularist of the Year, in recognition of his lifelong commitment to the defence of human rights against religious fundamentalism.[208][209]

On 21 September 2012, he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement award at the UK's first National Diversity Awards.[210][211] Alongside Misha B, Jody Cundy, Peter Norfolk and others he was a patron for 2013 National Diversity Awards.[212]

In January 2014, Tatchell was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws by De Montfort University.[213]


The Peter Tatchell Papers are held at the London School of Economics in the Hall Carpenter Archive.[214] Supplementary papers are housed at the British Library. The papers can be accessed through the British Library catalogue.[215]

Peter Tatchell Foundation[edit]

The Peter Tatchell Foundation (PTF) is a non-profit, nonpartisan organisation based in the United Kingdom which "seeks to promote and protect the human rights of individuals, communities and nations, in the UK and internationally, in accordance with established national and international human rights law" and its stated aims and objectives are "to raise awareness, understanding, protection and implementation of human rights, in the UK and worldwide".[200] Tatchell started the Foundation as a company in 2011,[216] which gained charitable status in 2018.[217] The organisation was named after Tatchell to honour his 50+ years of globally campaigning for human rights.[218] The charity's celebrity patrons include Sir Ian McKellen and Paul O'Grady.[219]

The organisation works with a variety of human rights issues globally, such as homophobia, transphobia, sexism, gender inequality, racism, political freedom, censorship, religious discrimination, unjust detention, freedom of association, capital punishment, asylum and refugees, trade union rights, self-determination of oppressed peoples, torture, genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and poverty.[200][220]

In 2012 the foundation gained funding from The Funding Network for three projects: "Casework & Advice", including adding an "Advice" section to its website; "Equal Love", campaigning on same-sex marriage and opposite-sex civil partnerships; and "Olympic Equality Initiative", working against sexism and homophobia in the Olympic movement.[221]


  • Tatchell, Peter (1983). The Battle for Bermondsey. Heretic Books. ISBN 0-946097-10-0.
  • Tatchell, Peter (1985). Democratic Defense. Millivres-Prowler Group Ltd. ISBN 0-946097-16-X.
  • Tatchell, Peter (1987). AIDS: a Guide to Survival. Gay Men's Press. ISBN 0-85449-067-1.
  • Tatchell, Peter (1990). Out in Europe. A guide to lesbian and gay rights in 30 European countries. Channel Four Television. ISBN 1-85144-010-0.
  • Tatchell, Peter (1992). Europe in the Pink. Gay Men's Press. ISBN 0-85449-158-9.
  • Tatchell, Peter; Taylor, Robert (1994). Safer Sexy: the Guide to Gay Sex Safely. Freedom Editions. ISBN 1-86047-000-9.
  • Tatchell, Peter (1995). We Don't Want to March Straight: Masculinity, Queers and the Military. Cassell. ISBN 0-304-33373-5.


Tatchell was the subject of the widely-acclaimed[222] Netflix[223] documentary Hating Peter Tatchell.[224]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Peter Tatchell: Appeal against Visa Refusal "Peter Tatchell: Appeal against Visa Refusal". Archived from the original on 8 November 2011. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  2. ^ Crisis Years, The Thatcher (20 April 2015). "Peter Tatchell, Michael Foot and Margaret Thatcher". Archived from the original on 28 April 2016. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Tatchell to stand for Green Party". BBC News. 24 April 2007. Archived from the original on 22 September 2007. Retrieved 7 February 2008.
  4. ^ Duff, Oliver (17 April 2007). "Out now: Margaret's myopic view of the world". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 4 December 2009.
  5. ^ Tatchell, Peter (5 May 2004). "Why I joined the Greens". Red Pepper. Archived from the original on 7 October 2007. Retrieved 5 February 2008.
  6. ^ a b Day, Elizabeth (20 December 2009). "How constant beatings have caught up with campaigner Peter Tatchell". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 14 October 2018. Retrieved 15 September 2011.
  7. ^ A University Should NOT Be A Safe Space | Peter Tatchell | Part 4 of 6, retrieved 25 July 2022
  8. ^ Peter Tatchell | We Should NOT Do Whatever Necessary (8/8) | Oxford Union Debate, retrieved 25 July 2022
  9. ^ You Should NOT Be Proud To Be Patriotic | Peter Tatchell | Oxford Union, retrieved 25 July 2022
  10. ^ "AIM25 collection description". Archived from the original on 23 March 2020. Retrieved 6 February 2020.
  11. ^ Day, Elizabeth (20 December 2009). "How constant beatings have caught up with campaigner Peter Tatchell". The Observer. London. Archived from the original on 14 October 2018. Retrieved 20 December 2009.
  12. ^ "Dear Sylvia Pankhurst: Equality hero! | Peter Tatchell Foundation". March 2017. Archived from the original on 29 September 2020. Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  13. ^ "Is This Your Life?" television programme, Channel 4, 5 August 1995.
  14. ^ "Coming Out as Atheist: Peter Tatchell, Grayson Perry". National Secular Society. 2 December 2005. Archived from the original on 7 March 2012. Retrieved 23 July 2010.
  15. ^ "A Day in the Life of Peter Tatchell". Huffington Post. 14 February 2013. Archived from the original on 14 October 2018. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  16. ^ "Celebrity blind date: Richard Fairbrass and Peter Tatchell". The Guardian. London. 19 June 2010. Archived from the original on 14 October 2018. Retrieved 15 July 2013.
  17. ^ "BBC Radio 4 – Any Questions?, 24/07/2009". BBC. Archived from the original on 6 February 2020. Retrieved 6 February 2020.
  18. ^ "LGBTQ Heroes: Peter Tatchell". G-TV. 3 March 2019. Archived from the original on 26 February 2021. Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  19. ^ a b (Tatchell, 1983) p.13
  20. ^ "Bermondsey ten years on", Gay Times, February 1993.
  21. ^ Tatchell, Peter (November–December 2014). "My Journey from superstition to rationalism". Humanism Ireland. Archived from the original on 15 March 2016. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
  22. ^ "Dr Peter Tatchell". London South Bank University. 8 August 2013. Archived from the original on 1 October 2020. Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  23. ^ New Statesman: Volume 137, Issues 4891–4903, 2008.
  24. ^ Tatchell, Peter (18 March 2004). "Tatchell Urges: Rename Aussie Capitals". Archived from the original on 13 September 2015. Retrieved 21 February 2016.
  25. ^ Jorge Morales, "Tatchell's Long Crusade", The Advocate, 2 May 1995; page 23.
  26. ^ "Liberation, five decades on". Camden New Journal. Archived from the original on 1 November 2020. Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  27. ^ Power, Lisa (1995). No Bath But Plenty of Bubbles: An Oral History Of The Gay Liberation Front 1970–7. Cassell. ISBN 0-304-33205-4.
  28. ^ a b Cassisa, Susanna L. (May 2021). Gay Identity in the GDR (BA). University of Mississippi. pp. 43–47. Archived from the original on 13 May 2021. Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  29. ^ Peter Tatchell, "GLF at the World Youth Festival, GDR 1973", Gay Marxist No. 3 (October 1973).
  30. ^ "Documentary Explores Gay and Lesbian Oppression in East Germany". Der Spiegel. Hamburg, Germany. 15 February 2013. Archived from the original on 16 February 2013. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
  31. ^ Tatchell, Peter (12 October 2010). "The Gay Liberation Front's social revolution". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 2 February 2015. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
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