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Anti-LGBT protesters force cancellation of Peter Tatchell event in Welsh town

26 Feb 2024 5 minute read
Peter Tatchell. Photo Gareth Fuller PA/Wire

Twm Owen, local democracy reporter

A talk by campaigner Peter Tatchell was cancelled due to safety concerns, after a controversial anti-LGBT group organised a protest.

The event, billed as “a conversation with Peter Tatchell”, was called off just hours before it was to take place.

The protest, organised by Public Child Protection Wales, went ahead outside the converted chapel in Abergavenny that was due to hold the talk despite the cancellation.

Safe gathering

Gwent Police said it attended to “ensure a peaceful and safe gathering” and that no issues were reported to.

The Labour leader of Monmouthshire County Council, Mary Ann Brocklesby, who is also a town councillor in Abergavenny, condemned the protest on social media site X, formerly Twitter.

She wrote: “I am saddened & disgusted that a conversation with @PeterTatchell was cancelled for safety reasons. A group still turned up to attack #LGBTQI rights risking the safety of people at the venue. Not here not now not ever. Zero tolerance @MonmouthshireCC for anti #LGBTQI behaviours.”

Green Party county councillor for Llantilio Crossenny, near Abergavenny, Ian Chandler wrote on X: “I’m very concerned that last night’s talk in Abergavenny by #LGBT activist @PeterTatchell was cancelled due to venue’s fears for safety of its staff from anti-LGBT protestors. I’m seeking more information from Gwent Police @GPMonmouthshire on their involvement”.

Sex education curriculum

Public Child Protection Wales – which unsuccessfully challenged the Welsh Government’s relationships and sex education curriculum through the courts – had encouraged “all peaceful participants” to attend and “register our disapproval of this man (Mr Tatchell) with our physical presence”.

It also invited any “LGB or T person who feels he does not advocate for you and your beliefs” to attend.

Videos from the protest on Wednesday, February 21, posted online, show Kimberley Isherwood, one of five parents backed by the group to bring the legal challenge that was dismissed by the High Court in 2022, claim Mr Tatchell supported the stance, adopted by the Welsh Government, that its relationship and sex education lessons should be compulsory.

Ms Isherwood told the protesters: “What’s the problem with Peter Tatchell? He is a huge supporter of the education campaign to remove your opt-out from this education.”

During the speech, and in videos posted to Facebook in the days before the event, claims were also made about Mr Tatchell’s writings and previous commentary.

Accusations

Mr Tatchell has a dedicated page on his website petertatchellfoundation.org in which he addresses accusations made against his writing and commentary, and clearly states that he condemns “without reservation child sex abuse”.

Freelance documentary film maker Alastair Laurence, who had organised the event and was due to conduct the interview at the Market Street venue, said he’d taken the decision to cancel “to protect the safety of staff at the chapel, the audience attending and our guest.”

Mr Laurence said the event is one in a series of interviews in front of an audience with artists, singers such as Peggy Seeger – sister of folk singer Pete – and authors including historian and broadcaster Margaret MacMillan and was due to discuss Mr Tatchell’s “life and times”. He has been at the forefront of the campaign for gay rights since helping to organise the first London Pride in 1972.

Mr Laurence said it was “very disappointing” to cancel the event but added: “I’d taken advice we should take this group seriously and there would possibly be confrontations.

“I had an email conversation with Peter Tatchell and he respected our decision.”

Mr Laurence said there had been no contact made with him by the Public Child Protection Wales group ahead of its protest. He said he contacted Gwent Police as soon as he became aware of the planned protest and once he’d taken the decision to cancel it no further planning with the police was required.

Confronted

He claimed some ticket holders who hadn’t received message the event had been cancelled were “confronted by the protesters”.

Mr Laurence claimed: “A number of them I understand were subject to heckling and abuse.”

Sergeant Emma Barrett, of Gwent Police, said: “Our response to any public gathering will always be fair and proportionate and our officers attended to ensure a peaceful and safe gathering with no issues reported to us.

“The right to lawful protest is a key part of any democracy, which UK police service uphold.”

When the High Court rejected the case brought against the Welsh Government it said there is no conflict with the European Convention on Human Rights by teaching children that some people self-identify in a gender different to their biological sex at birth, and there are people who self-identify as transgender or trans, queer or questioning.

The judgement said it cannot be wrong to teach children “that such persons exist, and that they should be treated equally and with respect.”

Public Child Protection Wales was contacted for comment.


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

Peter Tatchell must be one of the bravest men in the UK…

Richard E
Richard E
1 month ago

PT may not be on top of everyones Christmas Card list – he and his message always present a well thought out and sustainable point of view.. whether you agree or not.

He has a right to address any group at any time at any place FULL STOP ✔️

karl
karl
1 month ago

More imported far right American nonsense again. Probably be a bumch who live by the bible change that has led to those gay being victimsed and all this nonsense of men dressing up to get in girls changing rooms. And the disgust of gender netural toilets. This is a shameful report to read. The man is very dignified and well read, unlike the protestors

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
1 month ago
Reply to  karl

I have read around and done some basic research into PCPW (a strange, quasi-official sounding name) and there does seem to be a link with the Qanon nonsense about secret abuse rings that meet in the basement of a fast-food joint somewhere in the USA (the fast-food premises was found to have no basement, and indeed, was a pre-fabricated building erected on a concrete slab). Reading their arguments one has the strange feeling that they are a deluded bunch with some strange ideas and shall we say, an extremely individual interpretation of the sex education proposals that they simply cannot… Read more »

Richard
Richard
1 month ago
Reply to  karl

Best not to generalise my friend. Those with Christian and other faiths fight for equality and respect – whether in Russia, Africa or here 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿.

Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago

Now wondering who is behind pcpw.
This is kicking off big time in the US, how far have those US groups got reach into the UK.

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff

See my response above. As far as I’m aware, PCPW are the only such group in Wales, and it’s likely that they’ll only have support from the more gullible citizens with their wild claims that simply don’t stand up when compared with the reality, or any reasonable person’s gut feelings: no educator worth of the name is going to promote, let alone deliver part of a curriculum that would endanger those they are responsible for, it would simply go against the whole ethos of the education system in Wales.

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
1 month ago

Free speech is being closed down at breakneck speed in the UK.

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