Saturday, 23 August 2014

NOTORIOUS UK ACTIVIST PETER TATCHELL ON A LIFE IN THE LGBT TRENCHES


Peter Tatchell getting arrested by Russian police at the 2007 Moscow Gay Pride march (All photos courtesy Peter Tatchell)

Bugs’ interview with Peter Tatchell originally ran in The Montreal Gazette.

Legendary British activist Peter Tatchell has been a thorn in the side of countless homophobes over the decades, everybody from the President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, to the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin.

But arguably some of the biggest-name homophobes who despise him most are notorious anti-gay Jamaican reggae dancehall superstars such as Sizzla, who wrote the 2005 hit song Nah Apologize about LGBT activists – and in particular, about Tatchell and myself.

Peter Tatchell
Tatchell’s international Stop Murder Music campaign successfully targeted Sizzla who then told me in an explosive 2004 Hour magazine cover story that went global, “Once we stoop to sodomites and homosexuals, it is wrong! Wherever I go it is the same thing – burn sodomite, burn battyman … We must get rid of Sodom and Gomorrah right now.”

That sensational interview made international news, including on the pages of Jamaica’s national newspaper The Jamaica Gleaner where I was also trashed in an op-ed. Then in his song Nah Apologize, Sizzla repeats in the chorus, “Rastaman nah apologize to no batty bwoy!”

Tatchell clearly remembers that turbulent era when many dancehall stars were targeted by the Stop Murder Music campaign.

“It took a huge amount of effort and I personally faced many death threats, even had police protection at certain times when they informed me a hit man had been sent from Jamaica to kill me,” Tatchell says. “The upshot is today the prevalence of murder music is much less than it was. We hit them where it hurts them most – in their wallets, when all those concerts got cancelled around the world.”

You might not know it from his in-your-face political tactics, but Tatchell’s political inspirations are Mahatma Gandhi, Sylvia Pankhurst and Martin Luther King. But there is no question that Tatchell – who staged the first-ever LGBT rights protest in a communist country, East Germany, in 1973 – is also inspired by the likes of Malcolm X.