By Ed Howard
In a shocking turn of events, United States President Donald Trump has retweeted long-time social campaigner Peter Tatchell, in response to his discussion about a pro-LGBT Bollywood movie called Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan (Extra Careful of Marriage).
This comes following the decriminalisation of gay sex in India, following a recent ruling by the country’s Supreme Court to abolish such rules, dating back from British colonial rule.
However, Mr. Tatchell has a very controversial past. While he has often been lauded for his political activism (including defending civil liberties, being an LGBT advocate as a gay man and attempting to conduct an international arrest of former Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe), he has also been notorious for two other things.
Back in 1983, he stood as the Labour Party candidate in that year’s by-election in the then London seat of Bermondsey. Much was against him; Michael Foot (the party’s then leader) heavily criticised him, many complained about his style of campaigning and much personal criticism was made of Tatchell by his Liberal Party opponent Simon Hughes (who is also LGBT). He then lost the election, and the seat remained in Hughes’ hand until the 2015 General Election.
What is more controversial however is his defence of paedophilia, and his laissez-faire views on sex with minors. This goes back to 1980, whereby he co-authored a controversial book. The Betrayal Of Youth was one that defended paedophilia, with many of its chapters defending the disgusting practice.
It’s introduction defended child murderers and paedophilia. Chapters explore a range of subjects, including child pornography, child prostitution, arguing that sex is good for children because they have a ‘right’ to have it and (in the worst chapter) having anonymous children’s testimonies about legalising sex. Needless to note, it’s a disgusting read and even after all this time, still shocks in many ways. No wonder many of the book’s authors are currently in prison for charges related to paedophilia.
Tatchell’s chapter (‘Questioning Ages of Morality and Ages of Consent’) itself concerned why the age of sexual consent should be lowered, as it was a changing thing as society changes around it, all the while it was bad mentally for young gay men and the affects that prison would have on them as a result. It was so short that it might as well not have been in there. However, it reflects the general tone of the novel, and it’s overall message; paedophilia is fine, and we should move towards that as a society. This is a sick and twisted worldview, and it’s stunning how this hasn’t damaged his reputation in the way a mean tweet or unfortunate comments have done for so many other prominent people in society at large.
Very tellingly, while he supposedly regrets writing the book now, his views on the subject matter haven’t changed. Casein point in 1997 and 2008, where for the former year he wrote to The Guardian that ‘that not all sex involving children is unwanted, abusive and harmful’ and for the latter year, he authored an article for the Irish Independent whereby he argued that those who have sex with minors shouldn’t be arrested for it, feeling as though it isn’t a legitimate crime. Very sick and twisted indeed.
Such actions have had conservative commentators criticise him, mainly that of former Breitbart UK editor Raheem Kassam, who commented that ‘ Peter Tatchell is a hardline “Gay Liberation Front” candidate and historic Jeremy Corbyn supporter’, on his Twitter account.
This isn’t the first time the US President has tweeted a controversial British political figure. Back in 2017, he was heavily condemned for retweeting former Deputy Leader of Britain First Jayda Fransen, which earned him much ire on both sides of the Atlantic. Very few defended him (mainly that of former MEP Nigel Farage) and he later expressed regret for his behaviour in a Good Morning Britain interview with Piers Morgan.
One would think he would have learned before retweeting such figures with poisonous and insidious views, but here he is again doing so. While some may argue he is simply trying to court the LGBT vote in America for the 2020 Presidential election, but surely there are better ways of doing it than this.