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Peter Tatchell in Belfast

July 28, 2008

Read a fascinating profile of Peter Tatchell, legendary human rights activist who is giving the  Amnesty International Pride Lecture tonight in the Black Box. The timing is not insignificant giving the ongoing controversy over the alleged homophobic views of Iris Robinson, Member of the Legislative Assembly here and wife of the First Minister.

Tatchell has not endeared himself to the establishment over the years, and in the light of the Lambeth Conference, it’s worthwhile noting that he considers religious fundamentalism, of all shades, as one of the biggest threats to global human rights. He is also known for his uncompromising stance against Mugabe, even going so far as to attempt a citizen’s arrest on Mugabe in 2001, when he was knocked unconscious by the dictator’s henchmen. Having campaigned for 20 years for Mandela’s release he has not hesitated to criticise him for his lukewarm comments on Zimbabwe.

He once remarked that the bible is to gays what Mein Kampf is to Jews. He has also described the current pope as the ‘ideological inheritor of Nazi homphobia’ and pronounced Rowan Williams as an appeaser of homophobes in the Anglican communion.

Anyway, Fionola Meredith’s piece in the Irish Times describes his devout Christian upbringing and also says that he was a Sunday School teacher in his younger years. She concludes the article by quoting from an interview in which the interviewer claims that Tatchell’s lifestyle is sparse, simple and almost monastic. The question is then asked, ‘why do you do it?’

His answer; ‘It’s simple’, says Tatchell, ‘I love other people and I loath injustice.’

Meredith writes in response:

‘Not a million miles from Christ’s gospel of love and compassion after all then.’

Such passion, energy and commitment. So why then is he loathed by so many ‘respectable’ church people?

And another question that occurs to me; how far has he really travelled from his ‘devout’ Christian upbringing?

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From → Reflection

One Comment
  1. Andrew permalink

    It’s a really interesting question. Growing up, I remember him as one of the few people I saw my Dad get visibly angry at when he appeared on TV – loathing is exactly the word.

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