Gay activists stand trial over Islamic protest

9:30 a.m. Monday, 30-January-1995
Brent Magistrate’s Court, 448 High Road, London NW10

Peter Tatchell and Glenn Halton, members of OutRage!, stand trial on charges arising from a peaceful protest against the murder of an estimated 4,000 lesbians and gay men since 1980 by the Islamic fundamentalist regime in Iran — most of the victims being beheaded, stoned and burned to death.

The OutRage! protest took place outside the international Islamic fundamentalist conference held at Wembley Arena, London, on 7th August 1994, organized by Hizb-ut-Tahrir.

Mr. Halton and Mr. Tatchell are charged with obstructing the highway and displaying signs which were “threatening, abusive, and insulting”. Both men deny both charges. They are being backed by the civil rights watchdog, Liberty (NCCL).

“What is at stake is the right to free speech and peaceful protest. The defendants are determined to challenge the police violation of their democratic right to demonstrate”, said David Allison of OutRage!.

“On the day of the protest, Muslim fundamentalists threatened to kill members of OutRage!. ‘We will find you and kill you’, they said. The police took no action against them. Instead, officers violently arrested Mr. Halton and Mr. Tatchell who were protesting peacefully against antihomosexual witch-hunts in extremist Islamic states such as Iran”, said Mr. Allison.

“When Muslim militants at Wembley incited the murder of homosexuals, the police did nothing. Yet officers immediately arrested OutRage! members who were calmly protesting without threatening anyone.

“These arrests were a gross infringement of the democratic right to peaceful protest. If standing on a pavement and holding up a placard is obstruction and grounds for arrest, then the right to demonstrate no longer exists. It is scandalous that officers have charged OutRage! members with public order offences for displaying placards with the factual statements, ‘Iran Murders Queers’ and ‘Islam Nazis Behead & Burn Queers’.

“These arrests have undermined attempts to improve relations between the police and the lesbian and gay community. The police appear to be siding with those who want to kill us”, concluded Mr. Allison.