University of Sussex awards hon doctorate to Peter Tatchell for 40 years of human rights activism

27 July 2010

Peter Tatchell

Salute for one of our great human rights heroes

The Green Party is celebrating an Honorary Doctorate being conferred on Peter Tatchell for his services to human rights.

On Friday, 23 July 2010, Peter Tatchell received an Hon D.Litt (Sussex) from University Chancellor Sanjeev Bhaskar.

Green Party Leader and Member of Parliament for Brighton Pavilion Caroline Lucas commented:  "We are incredibly proud of the work which Peter continues to bring in human rights and that he is a member of the Green Party.

"Whether it is his advocacy on behalf of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans) asylum seekers or his ongoing campaign for gay marriage; we are thrilled that the staff and students of the University of Sussex have decided to thank him in this way.

"Peter is truly one of our greatest heroes."

Brighton Green Councillor Amy Kennedy, Alumna of Sussex University and a serving Green Party councillor in Brighton said, "Peter brings invaluable work to often overlooked areas of human rights: the citizens of our city, our country and our world are indebted to him for his work.

"We celebrate with him for an award which I am proud to say has come from my alma mater."

Phelim Mac Cafferty, National Chair of LGBT Greens said: "This Honorary Doctorate recognises Peter's ongoing, tireless work of over four decades.

"It is apt in the same year in which we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Gay Liberation Front that Peter receives this award - whether its his staunch defence of the rights of LGBT people abroad or his ongoing investigative work to deliver fairness on our own shores - his work continues to inspire all of us to fight for a better world."

Commenting on his Honorary Doctorate, Mr Tatchell said: "I was hesitant about accepting this honour.

After all, my contribution to human rights is very modest.

"I am a long way from being a brave and effective campaigner. Many others are much more deserving than me.

"I would never agree to a royal honour but this award is different.

"My decision to accept was partly because the initiative for this honorary doctorate was a grassroots one, from the staff and students. I am honoured by their recognition of my human rights work.

"I accept this award in solidarity with the many heroic, inspirational activists who I support in countries like Uganda, Somaliland, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Baluchistan, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Western Sahara, Iraq, Palestine and West Papua.

"The message I will deliver in my acceptance speech is this: Be sceptical, question authority, be a rebel.

"All human progress is the result of far-sighted people challenging orthodoxy, tradition and powerful, vested interests.

"Don't accept the world as it is. Dream about what the world could be - then help make it happen.

"In whatever field of endeavour you work, be a change-maker for the upliftment of humanity.

"I do my bit for social justice, but so do many others.

"Together, through our collective efforts, we are helping make a better world - a world more just and free.

"My key political inspirations are Mohandas Gandhi, Sylvia Pankhurst, Martin Luther King and, to some extent, Malcolm X.

"I've adapted many of their ideas and methods to the contemporary struggle for human rights - and invented a few of my own.

"I began campaigning in my home town of Melbourne , Australia , in 1967, aged 15.

"My first campaign was against the death penalty, followed by campaigns in support of Aboriginal rights and in opposition to conscription and the Australian and US war against the people of Vietnam .

"In 1969, on realising that I was gay, the struggle for queer freedom became an increasing focus of my activism.

"After moving to London in 1971, I became an activist in the Gay Liberation Front, organising sit-ins at pubs that refused to serve 'poofs', and protests against police harassment and the medical classification of homosexuality as an illness.

"I was roughed up and evicted when I disrupted Professor Hans Eysenck's 1972 lecture which advocated electric shock aversion therapy to 'cure' homosexuality.

"The following year, in East Berlin, I was arrested and interrogated by the secret police - the Stasi - after staging the first gay rights protest in a communist country," said Peter Tatchell.

Notes

For more information please contact Brighton and Hove Green Party office on 01273 766 670.


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