Community News

Peter Tatchell is 70 and celebrates 55 years of human rights campaigning

Graham Robson January 19, 2022

Peter Tatchell, currently the subject of a major Netflix documentary, Hating Peter Tatchell, is to turn 70 on January 25 and this year celebrates 55 years of human rights campaigning.

One of Britain’s best known and longest surviving LGBTQ+ and human rights campaigners, Peter has supported nearly every major human rights campaign for the last half a century – and taken on everyone from Mike Tyson to Tony Blair and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

He first began campaigning while still at school in 1967 aged 15, against the death penalty and the execution of Ronald Ryan in his home state of Victoria, Australia. He went on to champion indigenous Aboriginal rights and oppose Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War.

On moving to London in 1971, Peter was prominent in the newly-formed Gay Liberation Front and famously confronted Prof Hans Eysenck over his support for electric shock aversion therapy to supposedly cure homosexuality.

He helped organised the UK’s first LGBTQ+ Pride parade in 1972 – this July being the 50th anniversary. The following year, he staged the first LGBTQ+ protest in a communist country, East Germany, and was arrested by the Stasi.

Peter stood as the Labour candidate in the notorious 1983 Bermondsey by-election – often regarded as the dirtiest, most violent and homophobic election in Britain since 1945. In 1990 he was a founding member of the LGBTQ+ campaign group OutRage!, which campaigned against homophobic discrimination.

Over the last five decades, Peter has participated in 3,000 peaceful protests, been arrested 100 times and suffered 300 violent assaults by homophobes and far right extremists, including 50 attacks on his flat. He has described the violent assaults as like living through a low-level civil war. For many years he suffered from PTSD.

Peter Tatchell
He was beaten unconscious by President Mugabe’s bodyguards when he tried to make a citizen’s arrest in Brussels in 2001 and suffered a severe beating by neo-Nazis in Moscow in 2007 when he supported the bid by Russian LGBTQs to hold a Pride parade.

Peter said: “The 25 January is my 70th birthday, my 55 years of human rights campaigning and 10 years of my Peter Tatchell Foundation. I hope to carry on for another 25 years.”