Activist urges students to hold gay pride march through Hatfield

PUBLISHED: 09:50 18 February 2015 | UPDATED: 09:50 18 February 2015

Peter Tatchell, Joanne Prescott and Mike Wilkinson

Peter Tatchell, Joanne Prescott and Mike Wilkinson

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Campaigner Peter Tatchell has called for a gay rights march to be held through Hatfield.

The 63-year-old gave a lecture at the University of Hertfordshire’s College Lane campus last Tuesday.

Introducing the veteran campaigner, Michael Wilkinson, chairman of the university’s gay staff group, said: “If it was not for Peter Tatchell, I would not be standing here today.”

Mr Tatchell, who has suffered at least two serious assaults while campaigning, told his audience in the Lindop Building: “We have come a long, long way in a relatively short period of time.

“Until 1999, Britain had the largest number of anti-gay laws of any country in the world.

“Now we have some of the best laws in the world.”

But, he insisted, the introduction of gay marriage in 2013 could not be the end of the struggle.

Inequalities persist, he warned, in pension rights, religious marriage and some areas of employment law.

Mr Tatchell said too many schools tolerated anti-gay bullying, and not enough taught about sexual orientation.

He said: “No-one comes into the world bigoted. They learn it from their peers, and sadly, often from adults.”

A third of British gays have experienced hate crime, he warned, and surveys show a third of British people think homosexuality is “mostly or always wrong”.

Mr Tatchell criticised leaders in the Church of England and the Commonwealth for ignoring harsh legal discrimination in many overseas countries.

But the most homophobic place in Europe, he claimed, is in Northern Ireland.

He told student activists they should organise a gay pride march through Hatfield, saying such demonstrations were powerful weapons against prejudice.

Concluding the event, Mr Wilkinson, the university’s deputy director of hospitality, said: “Peter has gone through all the things that are still wrong. Thank you for all the years of activism.”

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