Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Tuesday, November 16, 1999 Published at 17:08 GMT


Tatchell charged over Mugabe protest

The gay rights campaigner was arrested after the president's visit

British gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has been charged with using threatening words and behaviour during a demonstration against President Mugabe of Zimbabwe.

He has also been charged with assaulting a police officer during the incident in central London last month.

The leader of the gay rights group, OutRage!, attempted to make a citizen's arrest against Mr Mugabe when he visited the UK on a private shopping trip.

Mr Tatchell and two other members of the group were arrested after they pounced on a car in which Mr Mugabe was travelling.

[ image: Mugabe: Protested to UK government]
Mugabe: Protested to UK government
The group - which accuses Mr Mugabe of inciting "anti-gay hatred" - wanted to arrest him for the alleged torture of two journalists in Zimbabwe.

Mr Mugabe has attracted widespread criticism for his attacks on homosexuals, whom he has described as lower than "pigs or dogs."

Mr Tatchell says he will plead not guilty to the charges when the case comes before Horseferry Road Magistrates Court on Friday.

The two other men, aged 31 and 20, were ordered to return to Belgravia Police Station later on Tuesday.

Diplomatic spat

The incident has led to a diplomatic spat between Mr Mugabe and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Zimbabwe lodged a protest with Britain. Britain expressed regret, but did not apologise.

The row then escalated in media interviews given during the recent Commonwealth summit in South Africa, which both leaders attended, but at which they apparently did not meet.

Mr Mugabe accused the UK of setting "gay gangsters" on him over his controversial land reforms, under which land is to be taken from white landowners for redistribution to poor black families.

Mr Blair's official spokesman was forced to respond by officially declaring that the Prime Minister "is not a gay gangster".


Following the Remembrance Day service, at which Mr Mugabe was notably absent, Mr Blair referred to "eccentrics" in the Commonwealth.

He told an interviewer: "There is an eccentric end to the market, I'm afraid."

Asked whether he had "bumped into" the Zimbabwean President, he added: "I haven't, particularly, no."

In a separate radio interview at the summit, Mr Mugabe was dismissive of Mr Blair, saying he had no desire to talk to him.

"Mr Blair has remained a distant character, a kind of dry character, a man who wants nothing to do with you ... If a man doesn't want to see you, why should you want to see him?"

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

UK Contents

Northern Ireland

Relevant Stories

13 Nov 99 | Africa
Gay activist offers Mugabe tea for two

10 Nov 99 | UK
UK 'regrets' Mugabe gay protest

08 Nov 99 | Africa
Mugabe: UK set 'gay gangsters' on me

30 Oct 99 | UK
Gay activist freed after Mugabe row

01 Dec 98 | UK
Tatchell: Veteran protester

Internet Links


Zimbabwe government

UK Foreign Office

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online