Peter Tatchell, women and children – why are we so disheartened and worried?

Here is a letter I’ve sent to Peter Tatchell following his bitter tirade against feminists.

I should explain: We had been in email conversation for a while, after I’d asked him, as a human rights activist, to sign (with about 200 of us) a letter to The Observer protesting against the harassment and censorship of women participating in the government’s consultation on the Gender Recognition Act. No, he didn’t want to sign it unless it specified trans rights. It was not about trans rights, It was about women’s rights to speak and organise. No, he didn’t want to sign it. 

I admit, many friends and colleagues wondered, why bother? This is why: he is an emblematic figure in gay and human rights politics. That made it worth it.  

He ended that dialogue when I challenged him about support  for feminist campaigner Julie Bindel after the Truth to Power Cafe at the Roundhouse in October – an event to which he had been invited to participate – disinvited her. He discontinued our conversation. But he continued his public convos on Twitter, and  the more he says the worse it gets.

I sent him this letter following his embarrasingly poor responses to challenges to his 1997  interview with a 14-year-old boy, ‘Lee’, and what he calls the  child’s ‘affair’ and involvement in ‘the rent scene’ – what most of us would call abuse – and  to his argument about consent and what he calls “sex education.” 

Just let’s think abut another conversation Tatchell  could have had with ‘Lee’: a boy exploited through prostitution; he could have said, ‘I’m sorry I encouraged you  inappropriately, to talk about sex; I’m not qualified to do this, and I did it to service my own agenda; I should have put you in contact with someone who could have protected you;  I’m sorry I didn’t. I won’t talk to a young person like this, ever again.’

He could have said, ‘i understand your difficulties, but this does not decribe being gay, it tells me that no one has taken care of you, you need a rest. Trust me, you need to be protected. Then, who knows… you might decide you are gay, wonderful; you might descide you are straight, and that’s wonderul, too. But you did not learn about being gay, or not being gay, by being abused.’

Peter did not do that, as far as we know, and that is very worrying. 

Of course, Twitter doesn’t hack it, so here is an edited version of my letter  – introducing the tweets and links  –  to Peter Tatchell.

Peter replied on 12 November – it is published below.

Of course, the hardest word is sorry, but it would be a relief – for him and the rest of us – if he could say it, and then be quiet for a while: 

11 November 2018

Oh Peter, what have you done!

I’m afraid you will rue the day when you re-wrote, misquoted and misrepresented your own words after you were confronted with your opinions on adult-child sex and your  tirade against feminists.

You will of course deny sexism and support for paedophilia. But feminists of many hues, ethnicities, ages and orientations will have read your tweets with horror and sorrow.

Here is your tweet against ‘white feminists’

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It is you who are so wrong.