Peter Tatchell shares his experiences of protest

Peter Tatchell speaking at the event.
Image: Helena VestyPeter Tatchell speaking at the event. Image: Helena Vesty

Veteran human rights activist, Peter Tatchell, began his workshop by detailing his upbringing in Australia. Surrounded by an evangelical family, Tatchell was influenced by the teachings of Christianity from an early age, which would eventually play a key role as he transitioned into a life centred around the pursuit of equality for oppressed peoples.

Tatchell’s involvement in such struggles began when saw the galvanisation and successes of the Civil Rights Movement during its most active years in the 1960s. Concentrating on the examples of non-violent direct action, Tatchell began to form protests against the discrimination directed at members of the LGBTI community. Tatchell took the opportunity to remark on the changing nature of protests since the beginning of his career. Specifically, he expressed the contrast between the lack of technology and communication in the early era of the LGBTI mass movement and the contemporary development of social media tools, which has since allowed for a greater reach across all social groups.

However, he highlighted the fundamental importance of having a positive, constructive and achievable agenda, something, which he noted, is significantly absent in modern British politics. Indeed, Tatchell, who broke from the Labour Party in 2000, drew attention to his feelings about Labour’s current lack of a specific plan at a challenging time in the life of the party. He went on to further address the new difficulties in the push for LGTBI rights, including the controversial exemption of religious organisations from legislation that would otherwise serve to promote equality.

The experienced speaker followed with possible resolutions for these conflicts, particularly the need for the establishment of greater dialogue between faith groups and LGBTI activists. Tatchell explained that bridges could be built on the basis of “shared experiences of prejudice and hate crime”, in order to access and ultimately aid those who are members of both communities. He also expressed the success of trials involving equality and diversity lessons in schools, which could have a great impact on LGBTI children, an estimated half of which are bullied during their school years.

When asked what has kept him motivated in the face of staunch opposition, Tatchell cited those in countries across the world that work tirelessly, in dangerous circumstances, to achieve rights and equality for all. As a result, Tatchell remains committed to the work, and emphasised his continuing campaign to create a fairer and kinder society.

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