He has had to endure antipathy, arrest and assault. There have been the threats of death juxtaposed with character assassination. The consequences of such conduct have only served to reinforce his dedication to the disenfranchised and discriminated against. Any notion of him being deterred by the illiberal approach of the state’s security apparatus or a broad society that gorges on prejudice has simply not factored in the resolve of the human spirit that can take up home in the heart and mind of one individual.
Peter Tatchell, Human Rights Activist, has just turned 65 and despite the landmark there is nothing forthcoming that suggests this milestone will bring any dilution to a life time of attempting to secure greater rights and justice for the more, and most, vulnerable sections of society.
His legend has been cultivated within the desire of greater rights for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and the highly complex environment of sexual and gender identity. To allow that particular field of work some form of exclusivity however is to perhaps insult him in a manner that would rain down in a way that no mauling from the mercenaries of Mugabe or Muscovite Neo-Nazis ever could.
His list of causes is endless, from initially campaigning as a teenager in Melbourne against the cultural genocide inflicted upon First Australians, Aborigines to the wider world, to his endeavours of late which centre around the ailing of Aleppo who stand defenceless from the military might of the Assad and Putin on one side and a myriad of factions on the other. His courage in the latter is not restricted to his disdain of the Duma and their endorsement of the Syrian regime but also the inaction of the broad Left to voice their concerns for a beleaguered people who suffer daily death and destruction on a devastating scale.
Between both causes he has transcended country and continent, armed only with the conviction that humanity is threatened by avarice, ego and prejudice. En route he has continuously been prepared to put himself in danger, this best evidenced by the bumps and bruises that come with being physically assaulted on hundreds of occasions.
Peter and I are fellow Patrons of Gay Pride in Sunderland. This permitted an encounter in September 2014 when our joint capacity allowed us to lead the parade as it meandered within and on the periphery of Sunderland city centre. It created time and space, albeit brief, for me to get to know better someone I have a great respect and admiration for, a campaigner who can distinguish between anti-homophobia and genuine Equality, a resolute and determined individual who is fully familiarised with the idea that prejudice is not merely the presence of hostility but also the absence of equality and that often the latter is the essential precursor to the former.
He was humble, arguably the greatest gift someone can have when undertaking work which results in a sea of superlatives. He gave the impression of someone who does not desire a world of Peter Tatchells, more a world where such people do not have to exist.
To a true and sincere proponent of humanity and rights within. I appreciate that telling you to take some well-deserved time off would probably be futile.
Happy Birthday and best wishes always.