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Tuesday, December 1, 1998 Published at 15:41 GMT


UK

Tatchell: Veteran protester

Protesting at the enthronement of the Bishop of Durham

Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell is no stranger to brushes with the law.

Fined £18.60 for interrupting the Archbishop of Canterbury's Easter Sunday sermon, the veteran protester has been involved in more than 1,000 demonstrations.

His direct action protests have spanned the past 30 years.


[ image: A life of protest]
A life of protest
He went to school in Melbourne, Australia, left aged 16 and came to England three years later.

He had "come out" two years earlier and within five days of arriving in Britain on 27 August 1971, signed up with the Gay Liberation Front.

It was, he once wrote, "the most exciting period of my life ... It was politics with fun and it helped banish our internalised shame and repair much of the damage homophobia had done to us."

Radical youth

After A-levels at night school he studied sociology at the Polytechnic of North London where he took part in student protests.

In the late 1970s, attracted by a growing wave of radicalism, he joined the Labour Party.

He stood for parliament in a 1983 by-election in the working class area of Bermondsey, south east London.

"Red Pete" was attacked almost as viciously by political allies as by his enemies.

The press tore him apart for his far-left views and he lost the previously safe seat by 10,000 votes.

Overall he has paid a high price for his activism, receiving death threats and being attacked in the street a reported 300-plus times.


[ image: Fined £18.60]
Fined £18.60
After the election defeat Tatchell devoted his energies to homosexual campaigns and founded a string of organisations and coalitions.

He is a prolific author and writers of letters to the press.

He and friends formed OutRage! in May 1990 in reaction to the "queer-bashing murder" of Michael Boothe.

The gay actor was ambushed at a public lavatory in west London by a gang of thugs who kicked him to death.

Actions by the group have included "outing" allegedly homosexual bishops, gay weddings and crucifixions and the exorcism of the "demon" of homophobia outside Lambeth Palace.





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Tatchell fined £18.60 for pulpit protest





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