The Tab meets… Peter Tatchell
The Tab speaks to lifelong champion of LGBT and human rights, Peter Tatchell, about UKIP, Islam, and the NUS
Peter Tatchell speaks out:
“Protest is the lifeblood of democracy”
Extreme Islamic preachers need to be “blocked from speaking on University campuses”
“Free speech does not include inciting violence and hatred against other human beings”
Islamist clerics are “worse than the BNP”
“Fascism has no place in a University”
Student Unions and the NUS “need to show UKIP’s true policies”
Prominent LGBT and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell visted the University on Wednesday afternoon to give a talk on gay rights, and we were there to speak to him.
The lecture, entitled The Unfinished Battle for LGBT Equality, covered the flaws in the recent same-sex marriage act, and the numerous battles that still need to be fought to create true LGBT equality.
He said: “We’ve moved mountains, but there’s still a few small hills to overcome”.
After the lecture, which was attended by Gary Millar, Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Dr Andy Heath, Chairman of the Uni’s Staff and Postgrad LGBT Network, and plenty of other head honchos, we sat down with Peter to discuss UKIP, the NUS and Islamic extremism.
First on the table was The Tab‘s recent politics survey, which revealed a staggering 33% of students would vote Conservative in the next election, and 6% would vote for UKIP, who came in last after the Lib Dems.
“Undoubtedly prejudice does exist in many sectors of society, including the student population. Overall it’s less than it once was, but from your survey results it does appear that support for more conservative and right-wing parties is still quite significant. That’s a worrying trend.”
Speaking about people voting for UKIP as a protest vote, he continued: “if people are disaffected by the main parties, why not vote for a progessive alternative, like the Greens?” Although he may be biased there – he has been a member of the Green Party since 2004.
He’s clearly a very political person, so we couldn’t help asking what he thought about NUS International Officer Daniel Stevens’s ‘patronising’ ‘Have A Pint With An Immigrant Day’, a proposed celebration of multiculturalism where British students would go and have a scoop with an immigrant. Because obviously, those foreigns love being treated like subjects for left-wing students to tweet about.
He said: “I’m sure it was well-intended, but I’m not sure it’s going to be very effective. It has a whiff of condescension and patronisation.”
For all its offensiveness, the event was intended by its creator to be a middle finger to UKIP – which is something Peter was keen to get behind.
“Individual student unions and the NUS as a whole need to show UKIP’s true policies, because a lot of people are supporting them without realising the kind of right-wing views that they hold.”
This is a message that will ring true for many Liverpool students familiar with the views of ex-UoL student Jack Buckby – the right-wing mate of Nick Griffin, who left the University last year.
But the NUS isn’t all bad – we spoke about their recent report on LGBT student experience, which said that transgender students suffered from violence, discrimination and bullying much more than their gay and lesbian peers. Does a lot still need to be done for transgender rights?
“There’s still a lot of ignorance and prejudice – that needs to be challenged. Transgender rights are the new front line”
But according to Peter, gender issues don’t just affect trans people – we could all do with shaking off our gender roles.
“Gender identity is not just an issue for trans people – it’s for everyone. We need to break down traditional ideas of masculinity and femininity and recognise that binary polarity stops people from fulfilling their true potential”
But above all else, he was most keen to talk about Islamic extremism on campus – an issue that hit Liverpool Uni last year, as a planned visit by a radical preacher who had called gay people “worse than dogs and pigs” and “filthy” was cancelled, after his tour was called off.
It’s a problem that a number of Universities have had to deal with, but Peter takes a hard-line stance.
“I don’t agree with allowing hate preachers to speak. By giving them a platform, you’re giving them credibility.”
“These Islamist clerics are worse than the BNP – the BNP doesn’t advocate killing gay people, women who have had sex outside of marriage, and Muslims who turn away from their faith. That is the policy of these Islamist extremists.”
“If there’s no platform for the BNP, there should be no platform for far-right Islamist clerics – they’re both forms of fascism, and fascism has no place in a University.”
He continued to argue that free speech has its limits – “Free speech does not include inciting hatred and violence against other human beings”.
Pictures: Lee Cooper