Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Comrade Peter Tatchell, ‘Racist’ and ‘Transphobic’, according to National Union of Students.

with 22 comments

Human Rights have no Exceptions.

The emails from the officer of the National Union of Students were unequivocal. Fran Cowling, the union’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) representative, said that she would not share a stage with a man whom she regarded as having been racist and “transphobic”.

That the man in question is Peter Tatchell – one of the country’s best-known gay rights campaigners, who next year celebrates his 50th year as an activist – is perhaps a mark of how fractured the debate on free speech and sexual politics has become.

In the emails, sent to the organisers of a talk at Canterbury Christ Church University on Monday on the topic of “re-radicalising queers”, Cowling refuses an invitation to speak unless Tatchell, who has also been invited, does not attend. In the emails she cites Tatchell’s signing of an open letter in the Observer last year in support of free speech and against the growing trend of universities to “no-platform” people, such as Germaine Greer, for holding views with which they disagree.

Cowling claims the letter supports the incitement of violence against transgender people. She also made an allegation against him of racism or of using racist language. Tatchell told the Observer that the incident was yet another example of “a witch-hunting, accusatory atmosphere” symptomatic of a decline in “open debate on some university campuses”.

Reports the Observer.

The Tendance has known and supported comrade Peter Tatchell for over 25 years.

We were fellow supporters of Labour Briefing (he was one of the early figures in the monthly), fellow members of the Socialist Society Steering Committee.

The Tendance backs his human rights campaigning to the hilt.

Comrade Tatchell has fought for gay rights, for human rights, in the face of great hostility.

He has been beaten up by Mugabe’s thugs and Russian Nazis.

He was so badly assaulted in 2007 that the long-terms effects of the injuries meant that was unable to stand as a candidate for the Green Party in the last General Election.

I’m not deterred one iota from coming back to protest in Moscow,” Peter Tatchell told PinkNews.co.uk from Moscow, just hours after he was attacked by suspected neo-Nazis and then arrested by the Russian riot police the OMON. “Gay Russians need overseas support to protect them against state and neo-Nazi violence.”

He was speaking after arrests and violent attacks marred today’s attempted Moscow Gay Pride march. The organizer of Moscow Pride, Nikolai Alekseev, is still being detained at Moscow’s Tverskoi district police station, together with two prominent members of Russia’s Radical and Free Radical parties, Nikolai Khramov and Sergei Konstantinov. Those who attacked Mr Tatchell are believed to be free, while Mr Alekseev, who took part in a peaceful protest remains in police custody

Mr Tatchell told PinkNews.co.uk: “I urge people to protest to the Russian Ambassador and to ask their local MP to send a letter of protest to the Russian embassy.”

He added: “We also need a strong statement of condemnation from the Foreign Office, who have so far been silent. I am a British citizen violently attacked when mounting a lawful protests whilst the Russian police allowed violence to be perpetrated against me.”

Pink News. 

Comrade Tatchell says: human rights have no exceptions.

There is no “cultural” reason why any state, any political group, any  religion, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism, should have special exemption from our  common human framework.

Because comrade Tatchell has defended human rights against Islamism he has been attacked for ‘racism’.

The miserable and mad Bob Pitt even wrote this smear in 2012.

Peter Tatchell not only encourages Islamophobia – he defends the right of homophobes to incite hatred against the LGBT community

Islamists and their supporters, obviously still strong in the NUS, have not stopped this line of attack.

In the face of Islamist genocidal  racism they accuse Tatchell of …racism.

Then there was this last year,

Peter Tatchell criticised for signing letter warning of trans ‘censorship’

This is what he has had to put up with.

The gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has been “unable to sleep” and the Cambridge Classics professor Mary Beard was left “wanting to cry” after a letter they co-wrote supporting freedom of speech unleashed a torrent of abuse from supporters of transgender rights.

The falling out came after the pair signed a letter with 129 others, warning about “a worrying pattern of intimidation and silencing of individuals whose views are deemed ‘transphobic’”.

The signatories insist their only intention was to support freedom of speech in universities, which would allow the anti-transgender views that they both oppose to be defeated in debate.

Some critics, however, accused the pair of being “transphobic”, and claimed that their co-signatories included some feminists with anti-transgender motives. In the ensuing Twitter storm Professor Beard was branded “an unrepentant bigot”, and Mr Tatchell was told: “I would like to tweet your murder you fucking parasite.”

Mr Tatchell, 63, said: “I’ve received about 5,000 messages attacking me. The volume and vitriol of the attack has been almost unprecedented in 48 years of human rights campaigning. I’m shocked.


Comrade Tatchell is salt of the earth.

We breath more freely for his tireless courage.

His anti-democratic, anti human rights, opponents are beneath contempt.


Update: Peter has been Responding (Pabolite is the Tendance’s Twitter Account).



Written by Andrew Coates

February 14, 2016 at 12:02 pm

22 Responses

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  1. I despair about today’s student leaders. Peter Tatchell is a tireless campaigner for human rights. I haven’t agreed with absolutely everything he has said but that’s the point isn’t it. Free debate and engaging with different ideas is how democracy works. So many of tomorrows activists are going to leave university with such a blinkered view of the world.

    And quite uneducated I fear.

    Howard Fuller

    February 14, 2016 at 12:14 pm

  2. The point about Peter is that you are pretty damn likely not to agree with him on everything.

    That is why it’s called free thought and free speech.

    Andrew Coates

    February 14, 2016 at 12:29 pm

  3. Check out the TL here of the NUS National Women’s Officer

    Also, she RTs this presumably not knowing that Peter did not get a book banned but got slander reversed (http://www.petertatchell.net/about/raw-nerve-apology.htm / http://socialistunity.com/academics-smear-peter-tatchell/):

    These people think they can slander and defame to their hearts content and when someone fights back its oldies harassing the poor young students. I have seen up close the way these inter sectional activists behave and they have some nerve talking about harassment.

    Paul Canning (@pauloCanning)

    February 14, 2016 at 3:49 pm

    • Andrew Coates

      February 14, 2016 at 4:51 pm

  4. I agree 100% with Andrew’s ATL posting and all the BTL comments … but remember this strange and possibly disturbed person Fran Cowling, though NUS LGBT officer, was (according to the Observer article)speaking in a personal capacity and not on behalf of the NUS. Still, it’s a sobering example of where identity politics can lead …

    Jim Denham

    February 14, 2016 at 4:57 pm

  5. I take back my last comment: it seems this person is acting and speaking in line with NUS policy:

    Here is what passed – overwhelmingly – at NUS LGBT+ conference 2015

    Motion 101: End Transphobia, Biphobia and Islamophobia on Campus

    Content warning: Transphobia, biphobia, and Islamophobia

    Conference believes:

    1.1. NUS LGBT has a duty to protect and promote the rights of those who self-define as part of LGBT NUS, on campus at University or college and in wider society.

    2.2. All students, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, have the right to a safe environment at their University or College campus where they can learn, develop as an individual, and achieve their full potential. This safe space must include an environment that is free from all forms of discrimination and prejudice including but not limited to: homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, racism, sexism, ableism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism.

    3.3. Transphobia is an irrational dislike, hatred, prejudice and/or discriminatory action towards individuals who define as Trans, including (but not limited to) transgender, transsexual, transvestite, and genderqueer people, and anyone who does define into the gender binary norms of society.

    4.4. NUS Liberation Campaigns have previously passed ‘No Platform’ Policies in order to protect students from individuals who preach prejudice and discrimination based on an individual’s identity, and who incite hatred against an individual based upon their identity or beliefs.

    5.5. The NUS LGBT Campaign and the NUS Women’s Campaign have previously passed policy refusing to share a platform with Julie Bindel, a journalist and author who is notorious for her transphobic publications and views, and other individuals who hold transphobic views.

    Conference further believes:

    1.1. Julie Bindel is renowned for her transphobic viewpoints, which first came to light in her article Gender Benders, Beware (2004). Bindel has apologised for the ‘tone’ of this article, but has not renounced further writings which argue that Trans people should be denied medical care. Moreover, she has spoken at events such as Femifest 2014 that explicitly exclude Trans people.

    2.2. Julie Bindel argued in her latest book, ‘Straight Expectations’ (2014) that that bisexuality doesn’t exist as a sexual identity, thus erasing bisexual individuals’ identities and experiences.

    3.3. Julie Bindel has also criticised women who wear the niqab in her article for the Daily Mail: Why are my fellow feminists shamefully silent over the tyranny of the veil (2013); in refusing to believe that Muslim women have made their own decision to wear the niqab she denies Muslim women agency.

    Conference resolves:

    1.1. That the NUS LGBT Officers and members of the NUS LGBT committee shall not share a platform with Julie Bindel.

    2.2. That the NUS LGBT Officers and members of the NUS LGBT Committee shall not engage with transphobic, biphobic or Islamophobic speakers

    And here is a motion that passed at NUS Trans Conference in autumn 2015 – note “The sharing of content on social media is also granting a platform … Covering transphobic speech both in a positive and negative light is still granting it a platform”

    Motion 108 | Hate has no place on campuses

    Content Warning: Transphobia

    Conference Believes:

    1.NUS has a duty to protect and promote the rights of those who self-define as trans, on campus at University or college and in wider society.

    2.All students, regardless of their gender identity, have the right to a safe environment at their University or College campus.

    3.Transphobia is an irrational dislike, hatred, prejudice and/or discriminatory action towards individuals who define as trans.

    4.NUS Liberation Campaigns have previously passed ‘No Platform’, “no sharing of platforms” and “no invite” Policies in order to protect students from individuals who preach and incite hatred against an individual based upon their identity.

    5.Legally “hate speech” does not cover transphobic speech

    Conference Further Believes:

    1.1. Transphobic, homophobic, biphobic, racist, sexist, ableist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, and/or antiSemitic speakers have no place at universities or colleges.

    2.2. “No sharing of platforms” and “no invite” Policies do not limit the freedom of speech

    3.3. Transphobic speech should be legally recognised as hate speech

    4.4. Transphobia and transphobic speakers have lead to poor access to health care and welfare services by spreading myths about trans people.

    5.5. By allowing transphobic speakers onto campus this can affect the mental health of trans students on campus.

    6.6. By giving a speaker a platform it is a method to legitimises their views

    7.7. The sharing of content on social media is also granting a platform

    8.8. Covering transphobic speech both in a positive and negative light is still granting it a platform.

    9.9. Transphobic speech is still transphobic hate speech even if they are a member of another or the same liberation group.

    10.10. There is no such thing as reverse discrimination.

    11.11. Universities and Colleges should be a place for trans people to thrive where they feel safe and accepted.

    Conference Resolves:

    1.1. To support all campaigns, protests and petitions making people who are Transphobic, homophobic, biphobic, racist, sexist, ableist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, and/or anti-Semitic speakers not to invited onto campuses.

    2.2. To not share platforms with and not to invite onto campuses all transphobic speakers including but not limited to: Germaine Greer1 , Julie Bindel2 , Julie Burchill3 and Milo Yiannapolous4 .

    3.3. To actively campaign against the platforming and inviting onto campuses of all transphobic speakers at universities.

    4.4. To encourage the platforming and inviting onto campuses of people from liberation groups, specifically pertaining to the issue at hand.

    5.5. Encourage students’ unions to have safe spaces for trans people, as well spaces where they can operate autonomously

    6.6. To work on making transphobic speech covered under the definition of “hate speech”

    Jim Denham

    February 14, 2016 at 5:06 pm

  6. Fran Cowling signed a letter with others attacking the NUS President for not wanting to work with the “civil rights group” Cage against the Govt’s anti-extremist Prevent programme.

    Cage is seen as part of the liberation groups so beloved by today’s student left.


    However, the views of Cage leaders don’t really fit in with what I’d consider “liberation”.

    ” During the interview Asim Qureshi expressed personal support for the principle of death by stoning for adultery and other death penalties prescribed by Islamic law “as long as all due process elements are met”, and in 2015 again refused to condemn stoning for adultery.” – Wikipedia


    Anyway, in today’s student left it is essential to work with “liberation groups” whose leading members publicly support stoning to death of adulterers (and no doubt, gays) while no platforming Germaine Greer and Peter Tatchell.

    John R

    February 14, 2016 at 5:11 pm

  7. I feel that this issue is coming to a head. These NUS types elected by the smallest of turnouts have access to funds and publicity that gives them the ability to launch these ridiculous campaigns. They are examples of how the left has lost whatever moral credibility that it had and is now aligned with some of the most reactionary forces in the world today.

    The irony of the situation is that they support Islamist groups both here and abroad that would hang them publicly from cranes. They are a modern day equivalent of Lenin’s ” Useful idiots”.

    Dave Roberts

    February 14, 2016 at 5:48 pm

  8. Cowling used her passive-aggressive authority to get Peter removed. That’s what happened and her supporters do not like it one bit when that is pointed out:

    I have also seen numerous retweets about the letter from some African LGBT activists criticising Outrage and Peter. Apart from the fact that this was only some activists – and I personally know ones who refused to sign – the response from Peter and Kizza Musinguzi explains the politics and infighting that lay behind the letter http://www.petertatchell.net/a2/print_versions/67.htm

    In not knowing any of that, and in not realising that Africans can disagree with each other and have the same sort of sh*t going on just as we have here, and in cherry-picking Africans in order to have a pop at Peter these so-called anti-racists are the very definition of colonialist.

    Paul Canning (@pauloCanning)

    February 14, 2016 at 6:45 pm

  9. Interesting background info Paul…seems like some people like to think of Africans and LGTB (+ the rest of the alphabet in some circles!) as homogenous groups. The fact that some African LGTB activists disagree with PT (whilst many are supportive) is just evidence of pluralism…a basic concept that our new breed of highly censorious NUS leaders seem to utterly fail to get!! And this is the reason why these issues are best openly debated rather than having an irritatingly self-righteous clique determine who can say what and when.

    Alex Ross

    February 14, 2016 at 8:02 pm

  10. These people can also destroy, I finally located the best example of this and i could give you chapter and verse on how outrageous the behavior was.

    Paul Canning (@pauloCanning)

    February 14, 2016 at 9:32 pm

  11. Mugabe got it right:


    February 15, 2016 at 12:50 am

  12. Normally student politics are of no interest.

    But the indifference of these self-indulgent identity types towards the mass murders happening the in the Middle East, from Assad onwards, and, in particular, their refusal to do anything about those backing Islamist genocide, not to mention, as John R points out, a position that extends to active complicity with apologists for that genocide, puts them in the category of those who turned their back on the Holocaust.

    The accusation of ‘racism’ against Peter very obviously relates to the fact that he is prepared to stand up to Islamist….racism. Which indicates the point of the French comrades: Islamophobia is a term used by Islamists and their allies to prevent any criticism of them.

    I suspect that the ‘trans’ accusation is only there as a weapon to smear Peter further.

    They have the fucking cheek to attack somebody who’s done what he can and what he thinks is right to fight the slaughter – human rights have no exception – from his very bones.

    Andrew Coates

    February 15, 2016 at 10:33 am

  13. Some useful info from comrade Phil, though I don’t get his argument http://averypublicsociologist.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/notes-on-peter-tatchell-and-no-platform.html

    Paul Canning (@pauloCanning)

    February 15, 2016 at 12:28 pm

  14. The politics of the selfie generation – “look at me, look at me, LOOK AT ME”

    Boleyn Ali

    February 15, 2016 at 1:16 pm

  15. The politics of the selfie generation – “look at me, look at me, LOOK AT ME”

    To be more exact:

    “Look at me, look at me, LOOK AT ME… no, don’t look at me, don’t look at me, stop shaming me, STOP HOUNDING ME, LEAVE ME ALONE!”


    February 15, 2016 at 1:55 pm

  16. Phil is arguing in terms of the original context of No Platform.

    This was a tactic centrally designed to oppose the National Front from marching, particularly in ethnic minority areas (such as Lewisham), although originally it was raised around the Red Lion Square NF meeting at Conway hall (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Lion_Square_disorders).
    There you can see the origin of the confusion which still haunts us.

    Conway Hall, essentially in the shape of Barbara Smoker and Nicolas Walter (you wonlt read this on Wikipedia btw), who own Conway Hall, refused to cancel the NF booking on the ground of free speech.

    The riot that took place, spearheaded by ‘Marxist-Leninists’ and joined by the IMG,happened after people tried to reach the Hall.

    The IMG developed the line that the NF was the potential source of a paramilitary strategy that would create a “strong state” – not far-fetched at a time of mass ‘private armies’ of the right, and other manouevres in that direction.

    This fascist military-party had to be stopped: physically.

    Phil is completely accurate to say, ” ‘no platform’ meant taking direct action, often violent, to prevent fascist organisations from running marches, holding meetings and rallies, and to deny them any public platform at all. This wasn’t because they were nasty, it’s because it was part of a life and death struggle for political space. Where that fight was won by the brown shirts and black shirts, the hell of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany tells you what exactly was at stake. To reiterate, no platforming was something that was enforced by the martial power of communist, radical, and labour movement forces. It was an expression of working class confidence and power and not the state or some other institution denying fascists meeting rooms.”

    The IMG pamphlet Fascism, What is it, and How to Fight it, develops this theme. Part of its analysis – I learnt when I joined the IMG – was based on the physical confrontation of the Ligue communiste with Ordre Novueau. The clashes were so violent the LC was dissolved and became the Ligue communiste révolutionnaire (LCR – now the NPA).

    The debate about free speech continued but the anti-fascists always meant this direct physical confrontation with the fascists.

    Free speech issues got more and more entangled in the already raucous debate.

    At Warwick University (the University from which Kevin Gately – killed at Red Lion Square came) there was a student union meeting in 1979 on putting No Platform in the Constitution – a resolution put by the SWP.

    At a 2,000 strong meeting I argued that Constituionalising the principle meant making a political principle into an administrative one. That ‘fascist’ was broad enough to include a whole number of people – gesture towards the Tory bloc sitting in the front of the meeting. That we should confront fascists, not try to solve a political problem by administrative means.

    This was far from a moderate position.

    In any case the meeting ended without the SWP motion being passed.

    The SWP has more success elsewhere and used it against ‘Zionists’…

    Andrew Coates

    February 15, 2016 at 2:25 pm

  17. I meant that the final bit of Phil’s piece confused me.Great, useful comment Andrew.

    Here’s Ian Dunt on form http://www.politics.co.uk/blogs/2016/02/15/ignore-the-excuses-peter-tatchell-has-been-no-platformed

    The purpose of the censorship movement is to eliminate critical views by silencing them. They do it in many ways – from libellous slurs, to Twitter storms, to disinvitations, to no-platforming motions at a conference. But it always has the same aim: to shut that person up. We shouldn’t be making excuses for them or arguing over technical definitions. We should be taking a hard stand against this new puritanism and offering our solidarity to everyone it affects.

    Paul Canning (@pauloCanning)

    February 15, 2016 at 4:57 pm

  18. Dunt focuses on the key point, “Cowling letter brands Tatchell a racist and a transphobe”.

    Once you accept that string of lies that all hell can break lose.

    Andrew Coates

    February 15, 2016 at 6:00 pm

  19. I don’t think the Peter Tatchell “no platform” issue and the politics of it will be confined to student politics, I’m afraid.

    One was the signatories of the pro-Cage letter I linked to above was one Shelly Asquith (NUS Vice President of Welfare and was Student Youth and Young Trade Unionist spokesperson for the Jeremy Corbyn campaign).

    She has also made her feelings clear regarding Peter Tatchell and her support of Fran Cowling on Twitter.


    Ms Asquith has written articles supporting Jeremy Corbyn in Labourlist. As she played a prominent role in his leadership campaign, it would be surprising if she didn’t participate in the political direction of Momentum (and Labour?). It’s obviously early days yet with Momentum but a look through their recent National Committee Agenda talks of the integration of “liberation” groups. The kind of language we see the student left promoting.

    As to who will represent these “liberation” groups within Momentum, it remains to be seen but one thing is for sure. Those who criticise them will be hammered by the righteous.

    Click to access National_Committee_3570014a.pdf

    John R

    February 16, 2016 at 12:45 am

  20. […] In many organisations, not just the Green Party, it has led to a harmful ‘hot button’ politics. Certain individuals are becoming hyper-primed to take offence at every possible slight, real or imagined. So too is hair trigger sensitivity to any perceived grievance, whether it is deliberate, accidental or even possibly justified (https://www.palgrave.com/gb/book/9783319703282) The knives are out for anyone deemed to be ‘out of line’ by those who claim to represent this or that identity group. Thus, the rightly celebrated campaigner Peter Tatchell too has been denounced as “racist” and “transphobic”! (See: https://tendancecoatesy.wordpress.com/2016/02/14/comrade-peter-tatchell-racist-and-transphobic-accor…&nbsp😉 […]

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