Peter Tatchell

British gay rights activist (born 1952)

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

Peter Tatchell in 2010

Quotes edit

  • Be sceptical, question authority, be a rebel. Do not conform and don’t be ordinary. Remember, all human progress is the result of far-sighted people challenging orthodoxy, tradition and rich, powerful, vested interests. Be daring, show imagination, take risks. Fight against the greatest human rights violation of all: free market capitalism, which has created a world divided into rich and poor, where hundreds of millions of people are malnourished, homeless, without clean drinking water and dying from hunger and preventable diseases. Don’t accept the world as it is. Dream about what the world could be – then help make it happen.
    • Honorary doctorate acceptance speech (26 July 2010). [1]
  • Debates and parliamentary divisions are fruitless cosmetic exercises given the Tories' present Commons majority. And if we recognise this, we are either forced to accept Tory edicts as a fait accompli or 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.
    • Article in London Labour Briefing (November 1981). When quoted in the House of Commons, Labour Party leader Michael Foot denounced him as the Labour candidate for Bermondsey. Source: Tatchell The Battle for Bermondsey (Heretic Books, 1983) p. 53
  • The Bible is to gays what Mein Kampf is to Jews.
    • Lecture, St. Botolph's, Aldgate, London (21 March 2000).
  • It is quite evident that the Soviet system today represents the exact opposite of almost everything that the left in the West is striving for - obsessive state secrecy rather than freedom of information, centralised bureaucratic control instead of devolved decision making and public accountability, total state power over the individual as opposed to inalienable civil liberties, authoritarian economic management rather than trade union freedom and industrial democracy, and a government-manipulated media instead of greater diversity and choice in news and information sources.
  • As a condition of equal treatment, we homosexuals are expected to conform to the straight system, adopting its norms and aspirations. The end result is gay co-option and invisibilisation. We get equality, but the price we pay is the surrender of our unique, distinctive queer identity, lifestyle and values (the important insights and ethics that we have forged in response to exclusion and discrimination by a hostile straight world). [...] Meanwhile, all the sex-repressive social structures, institutions and moralities remain intact, and the "bad gays" remain sexual outlaws.
This nouveau gay reformism involves the abandonment of any critical perspective on straight culture. In place of a healthy scepticism towards the heterosexual consensus, it substitutes naïve acquiescence. Discernment is abandoned in favour of compliance. We trade our souls for the 'gift' of equal rights.
  • In contrast to earlier gay law reform and equality-oriented movements, the 1970s LGBT liberation movement did not seek to ape heterosexual values or secure the acceptance of sexual orientation and gender identity minorities within the existing sexual conventions. Indeed, it repudiated the prevailing sexual morality and institutions - rejecting not only heterosexism (heterosexual supremacism) but also male machismo, with its oppressive predisposition to rivalry, toughness and aggression; the extreme expressions of which are the rapist, queer-basher, racist murderer and war criminal.
The "radical drag" and "gender-bender" politics of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) in the early 1970s glorified and promoted male gentleness. A conscious, if sometimes exaggerated, attempt to renounce the oppressiveness of masculinity and male privilege, it rejected straight macho values; identifying them with the subordination of women and LGBT people. The GLF was truly revolutionary because it attempted to subvert male-female gender roles and straight patriarchy. It denounced the ethos of masculine competitiveness, domination and violence; instead affirming the worthwhileness of male sensitivity and affection between men and, in the case of lesbians, the intrinsic value of an eroticism and love independent of maleness.
These ideas led me to propose that without the construction of a cult of machismo and a mass of aggressive male egos, neither sexual, gender, class, racial, speciesist nor imperialist oppression are possible.

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