1998 October

Tatchell stands trial over Easter Sunday cathedral protest

Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell will stand trial at Canterbury Magistrates’ Court on Monday, 30th November 1998, at 10:00 a.m..

He is being tried on a charge of “indecent behaviour in a church” contrary to Section 2 of the Ecclesiastical Courts Jurisdiction Act 1860, (formerly part of the Brawling Act 1551).

Tatchell’s trial will be the first court case involving the privileged legal status of the church since the Gay News blasphemy trial in 1977.

OutRage! is urging supporters to protest outside Canterbury Magistrates’ Court, Broad Street, Canterbury, (opposite the Cathedral), from 9:15 a.m. on Monday, 30th November.

Donations to the Defence Fund should be made payable to “OutRage!” and sent to:

OutRage!, P.O. Box 17816, London. SW14 8WT

The trial follows OutRage!’s peaceful two-minute Easter Sunday protest in Canterbury Cathedral, which interrupted the sermon of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. George Carey. Tatchell walked into the pulpit and addressed the congregation, criticising Dr. Carey’s support for discrimination against lesbian and gay people with regard to employment, the age of consent, fostering, and marriage.

Of the seven OutRage! protesters in the cathedral, only Tatchell was arrested and charged.

The OutRage! Easter Sunday protest interrupted Carey’s political sermon: not the sacred parts of the Easter Service, such as prayers or communion. Tatchell’s intervention was nonviolent, calm, and dignified. He did not touch or speak to the Archbishop. He uttered no insults, threats, abuse, or bad language, but merely stated the facts about Dr. Carey’s on-the-record opposition to lesbian and gay human rights.

Britain’s top civil liberties lawyer, Mike Mansfield, QC, has agreed to represent Tatchell. His solicitor, who has handled the case for the last six months, is the esteemed gay rights advocate, Angus Hamilton. Tatchell’s defence will be “the right to free speech and peaceful protest”. He will challenge the way the 1860 Act gives the church “privileged protection against protest”.

Amnesty International is monitoring the case, following calls for Tatchell to be adopted as a “prisoner of conscience” if he is jailed.

The National Secular Society has launched an Appeal “deploring the prosecution of Peter Tatchell under the Ecclesiastical Courts Jurisdiction Act” and calling for the 1860 Act to be repealed on the grounds that “it gives the church unique and sweeping powers to suppress dissent”.

Many leading public figures have signed the NSS Appeal, including

  • Lord Henderson of Brompton,
  • Lord Jenkins of Putney,
  • Lord Peston,
  • Lord Raglan,
  • Lord Rea,
  • Viscount Falkland,
  • Baroness Flather,
  • Bishop Derek Rawcliffe,
  • Sir Ian McKellen,
  • Sir Ludovic Kennedy,
  • Stan Newens, MEP,
  • Iain Banks,
  • Alan Bennett,
  • Edward Bond,
  • Marcelle d’Argy Smith,
  • Michael Foot,
  • Harold Pinter,
  • Claire Rayner,
  • Vanessa Redgrave,
  • Jimmy Somerville,
  • Neil Tennant,
  • and Polly Toynbee.

Tony Benn, MP will appear as a character witness. Dr. Evan Harris, MP and the Bishop of Edinburgh and Primate of Scotland, the Rev. Richard Holloway, have written character references on Tatchell’s behalf.

There have been only a handful of prosecutions for protest under the 1860 Act in the past 138 years. The Court has already intimated that it may sentence Tatchell to a term of imprisonment. The last time the 1860 Act was used against protesters was 1966. They were sentenced to two months’ jail.

The prosecution claim that any form of protest in a church –no matter how peaceful and dignified– is “indecent” under the 1860 Act.

No Cathedral clergy or staff are appearing as prosecution witnesses.

“What is at stake in this trial is the right to free speech and peaceful protest”, said David Allison of OutRage!. “The real scandal is not OutRage!’s peaceful protest in defence of human rights, but Dr. Carey’s advocacy of discrimination against lesbians and gay men.

“The 1860 Act gives the church privileged immunity from protest. No other institution has these special, draconian powers to muzzle dissent. It should not be a crime to criticise an Archbishop in his cathedral.”

More recently, Dr. Carey condemned legislation to equalise the age of consent for gay men; urged MP’s to vote in favour of the discriminatory status quo; and encouraged the House of Lords to overturn the 5:2 Commons majority (336 to 129) in favour of equality.

“As President of the Children’s Society –a Church of England charity– Dr. Carey actively discriminates against lesbian and gay people by enforcing the Children’s Society’s ban on homosexual foster parents. This policy results in young people –who could be cared for by loving, responsible gay couples– being left to suffer in the emotional coldness of local authority children’s homes”, said David Allison.

Despite calling in October for “compassion” for General Pinochet, Dr. Carey declines to show similar Christian compassion and forgiveness towards Tatchell. The National Secular Society wrote to Dr. Carey in October, urging that he call for the charge to be dropped, or that he at least ask the court to exercise clemency by not jailing Tatchell. Carey refused.

Canterbury Magistrates’ Court has refused Tatchell permission to summons Dr. Carey as a witness, even though Tatchell satisfied all the legal requirements. The Court declined to give a reason for its refusal. At the same hearing –again without explanation– the Court refused Tatchell access to unused prosecution evidence which the prosecutor has admitted may undermine the case against Tatchell and could help his defence.

It has been suggested that this action by the Court may contravene: Article 14(3)(b) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); Article 6(3) of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms; and Principle 21 of the Basic Principles on the Rôle of Lawyers, which states: “It is the duty of the competent authorities to ensure lawyers access to appropriate information, files and documents in their possession or control in sufficient time to enable lawyers to provide effective legal assistance to their clients. Such access should be provided at the earliest possible time.”

Tatchell has been involved in over 1,000 direct action and civil disobedience protests during his 30 years of campaigning for lesbian and gay human rights. He has been convicted only once (following a peaceful protest in 1994 against Muslim fundamentalists who were advocating the murder of homosexuals): but that conviction was overturned on appeal.


We oppose religious privilege and support the right to peaceful protest. As well as deploring the prosecution of Peter Tatchell under the Ecclesiastical Courts Jurisdiction Act 1860, we strongly believe that a jail term is entirely inappropriate for a peaceful protest in defence of human rights.

We furthermore call for the repeal of the Ecclesiastical Courts Jurisdiction Act 1860: it gives the church unique and sweeping powers to suppress dissent. This is unacceptable in a modern democracy.

To add your voice to this appeal, cut and paste the above two paragraphs; add your name, address, and any official capacity in which you are signing; and email to: John Hunt, OutRage! London

Canterbury Magistrates’ Court, Broad Street. CT1 2UE; Tel. 01304-21.86.00; Fax 01227-45.77.27

Canterbury Visitor Centre, 34 St. Margaret’s Street; Tel. 01227-76.65.67.

Gay Protest at Sir David English’s Memorial Service

Gay rights campaigners breached the Prime Minister’s security net to stage a silent protest during the Memorial Service for the former editor of the Daily Mail, Sir David English, today, Thursday, 15th October, 1998.

The 12 noon service was held in St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church, Trafalgar Square, London, to pay homage to Sir David who died in June, aged 67. After a reading by the new Lord Rothermere, owner of the Dail Mail, five members of OutRage! walked to the front of the church and held up placards accusing the late Sir David of being a “gay baiter”, “queer basher” and “homo hater”.

The brief, dignified protest –to expose the truth about Sir David’s homophobia– took place in front of VIPs and dignitaries: including Prime Minister Tony Blair, Leader of the Opposition William Hague, and former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who were sitting just eight feet away in the front pews.

After standing in front of the church altar in silence, the OutRage! protesters had their placards ripped from their hands by the priest and church stewards. One protester walked down the side aisle displaying his placard, whilst the others were being hustled out of a side door. There were no arrests.

OutRage! says the Daily Mail, under Sir David’s 21-year editorship (1971-1992), “promoted prejudice, intolerance and discrimination against lesblans and gay men”.

“Sir David encouraged news stories and editorials that stereotyped, vilified, misrepresented and demonised the homosexual community”, said Ray Harvey-Amer of OutRage!.

“His coverage of AIDS and Section 28 was blatantly homophohic. He stirred up hatred against homosexuals and contributed to an atmosphere of intolerance that led to a massive increase in queer-bashing attacks and murders.

“Sir David and the Daily Mail have queer blood on their hands.

“This Memorial Service was a sham. It ignores the pain and suffering inflicted on lesbian and gay people by a man who was a shameless propagandist for homophobia.

“Sir David was a belligerent opponent of lesbian and gay human rights, arguing ferociously in support of discrimination against homosexuals.

“His editorship of the Daily Mail was a low-point in journalistic ethics. Objectivity, honesty and compassion towards lesbian and gay people were elbowed aside.

“Sir David will always be remembered by the gay community: as a promoter of bigotry and intolerance”, said Harvey-Amer.

FURTHER INFORMATION: Peter Tatchell 020-
PHOTOS OF PROTEST: Gordon Rainsford 07050-11.34.30
Rob Todd 0467-42.02.83

Accompanied by a photograph of Tony Blair kissing Sir David’s daughter Nikki, ‘The Times’ printed the following partial list of the congregation. —

The Prime Minister and Mrs Blair were present at a service of thanksgiving for the life of Sir David English, Chairman of Associated Newspapers and Chairman of ITN, held yesterday at St Martin-in-the-Fields. The Rev Nicholas Holtam officiated, assisted by Canon John Oates, Rector of St Bride’s, Fleet Street.

Viscount Rothermere, Chairman of the Daily Mail and General Trust read the lesson, Mrs Nikki Smith, daughter, read on behalf of Lady English, Violette Szabo’s code-poem for the French Resistance by Mr. Leo Marks, Mrs Amanda Christmas, daughter, read Sleep Tight Dad by her brother Neil.

Mrs Ina Miller read Grandad, what are you? written by Mathew McGregor Smith and Duncan David Smith (grandsons). Mr. Neil English, son, and Miss Patricia Hodge paid tribute. Mr. Stewart Steven gave an address.

During the service Ms Sheila Southern, accompanied by the Don Lusher Big Band, sang You make me feel so young.

Baroness Thatcher, LG, OM, FRS, and the Leader of HM Opposition attended. Among others present were:

Mr. Peter Smith (son-in-law), Ms Eva Smith, Ms Christine Stevens, Ms Nicola Saunders, Mr. Stephen Saunders, Mr. and Mrs Gordon Mainwood, Mr. Gregory Mainwood, Mr. Gordon McIntyre.

The Earl of Dalkeith, Viscountess Rothermere, Lord Baker of Dorking, CH, and Lady Baker, Lord and Lady Bell, Lord Borrie, QC, Lady Browne-Wilkinson, Lord St John of Fawsley, Lord Feldman, Lord and Lady Grade, Baroness Hooper, Lord Hunt of Wirral, Lord Hussey of North Bradley, Lord King of Wartnaby, Lady McGregor of Durris, Baroness Rawlings, Lord Rawlinson of Ewell, QC, Lord Shawcross, QC, and Lady Shawcross, Lord Sterling of Plaistow, Lord Tordoff, Lord and Lady Wakeham.

The Hon Alan Clark, MP, Mr. Michael Howard, QC, MP, and Mrs Howard, the Hon Vivian Baring, the Hon Jeremy Deedes (group managing director, The Telegraph Group), Mrs Sue Ryan (managing editor) and Ms Sarah Sands (deputy editor, also representing the Editor), the Hon Mrs E Hamilton, the Hon Mrs Camilla Yeates, Sir Gordon and Lady Brunton, Sir Brian Cubbon, Sir Michael Grylls, Sir Bernard Ingham, Sir Larry and Lady Lamb, Sir Nicholas Lloyd and Miss Eve Pollard, Sir Fergus Montgomery, Sir David and Lady Nicholas, Sir Gordon Reece, Sir Frank Rogers, Sir Patrick and Lady Sergeant, Sir Jocelyn Stevens, Sir Neil Thorne, Dame Susan Tinson, Mr. Keith McDowall and Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, Prince Mohsin Ali Khan.

Mr. Charles Sinclair (chief executive, Daily Mail and General Trust) with Mr. J P Williams (financial director), Mr. John Hemingway, Mr. Frank Lowy, Mr. Ian Park. Mr. Roger Gilbert (chairman, Harmsworth Media), Mr. Murdoch MacLennan (managing director, Associated Newspapers) with Mr. Paul Dacre (Editor-in-Chief), Mr. Guy Zitter (managing director Daily Mail) and Mrs Zitter, Mr. Peter Wright (Editor, Mail on Sunday), Mr. Max Hastings (Editor, Evening Standard), Mr. John Bird (managing director, Harmsworth Quays Printing) and past and present members of the group.

Mr. Les Hinton (executive chairman, News Intemational, also representing the Chairman of News Corporation) with Mr. Doug Flynn (managing dircctor, News International), Ms Jane Reed (director, Corporate Affairs), Mr. David Yelland (Editor, The Sun) and Mr. Bruce Stephen and Mr. Bruce McWilliam.

Mr. Andrew Alexander, Mr. Charles Alexander, Mr. William Allen, Mr. Charles Anson, Miss Nevs Aphonso, Mr. Jarvis Astaire, Mr. Ewen Balfour, Ms Drusilla Beyfus, Mr. James Bishop, Mr. Guy Black, Miss Katie Boyle, Mr. Fenton Bresler, Mr. Arthur Brittenden, Miss Sally Brompton, Mr. Alan Brooker, Mr. and Mrs Kenneth Brown, Mr. Michael Brown, Mr. Denis Bryan, Miss Mary Bryan, Mr. Chris Buckland, Mr. Peter Burden, Mr. Arthur Butler, Mr. Michael Carr, Mr. Harry Cayton, Mr. David Chipp, Ms Ray Clancy.

Mr. Stephen Claypole, Miss Minty Clinch, Mr. Richard Compton Miller, Mr. Ron Copsey, Mr. Ian Coulter, Mr. Peter Cowburn, Mr. Jack Crossley, Mrs Rita Curran, Mr. A Davidson, Mr. James Davies, Mr. Nigel Davies, Mr. Reginald Davis, Mr. Victor Davis, Mr. Ossie Day, Ms Anne De Courcy, Mr. Nigel Dempster, Mr. and Mrs J Dickie, Mr. Denis Doble, Mr. Nick Donaldson, Mr. Peter Donnelly, the Rev Dick Drown, Councillor Andrew Edwards, Mr. Robert Edwards.

Mr. Harvey Elliott, Mr. and Mrs Robin Esser, Mr. James Evans, Ms Kate Figes, Mr. Robin Findlay, Mr. Phil Fowler, Mr. Alan Frame, Mr. and Mrs Brian Freemantle, Mr. and Mrs Howard French, Ms Claire Gagneux, Mr. Charles Garside, Mr. Roderick Gilchrist, Mr. David Gillard, Mr. Alan Goddard, Ms Diana Gold, Mr. Nicholas Gold, Mr. Roy Greenslade, Mr. Peter Grosvenor, Mr. Peter Grover, Mr. Bruce Gyngell, Mr. Bill Hagerty, Mr. DW Harding, Mr. and Mrs Vyvyan Harmsworth, Mr. Stephen Harper, Mr. and Mrs Ronnie Harwood, Mr. Walter Hayes, Mr. and Mrs Norman Heath, Mr. Paul Henderson.

Mr. Brian Hendry, Mr. Robert Hill, Mr. and Mrs Jonathan Holborow, Mr. and Mrs Harry Holcroft, Ms Eileen Holman, Mr. Keith Hopkins, Miss Barbara Hosking, Mrs Marjorie Houghton, Mr. G Howe, Mr. James Irving, Mr. Herbert Ivor, Mr. Ian Jackson, Mr. Martin Jackson, Mr. Brian James, Mr. and Mrs Derek Jameson, Mr. Paul James, Mr. Edward Jeffery, Mr. Harry Johnson, Mr. Michael Jones, Mr. Peter Jones, Mr. Richard Kay.

Dr. and Mrs Ken Kennedy, Mr. Kevin Kennedy, Ms Ann Kent, Mr. and Mrs Pat Kernon, Ms Gwen Kernon, Mr. John Kilday, Mr. John Koski, Mr. John Kreckovic, Mr. Herbert Kretzmer, Ms Jeanette Kuperman, Mr. Stuart Kuttner, Miss Patricia Latham, Dr. Robin Lawrence, Ms Alison Le Breton, Mr. Christopher Leake, Dr. Jeremy Lee-Potter and Mrs Lynda Lee-Potter, Dr. Alfred Lee, Mr. Michael Leese, Mr. and Mrs Colin Leggat, Miss Ann Leslie, Miss Angela Levin, Dr. Julian Lewis, MP, Mr. Martyn Lewis, Mr. David Lidington, MP, Ms Joan Littlewood.

Ms Christine Long, Mr. Graham Lovelace, Mr. and Mrs Angus Macpherson, Mrs Frances Marckus, Mr. and Mrs L Marks, Mr. Eric Marsh, Mr. George Marston, Mr. Bill Martin, Miss Angela Mason, Mr. G Maxwell-Petrie, Mr. Graham McBain, Mr. Trevor McDonald, Mr. John McDonnell, Mr. and Mrs Robin McGibbon, Mr. Peter McKay, Mr. and Mrs Gordon McKenzie, Mrs Boo McKnight, Mr. Rayne McKnight, Ms Angelina McLusky Smith, Ms Sue Merrit, Mr. Monty Meth, Mr. Lester Middlehurst, Mr. Christopher Mitchell, Mr. Kenneth Morgan, Mr. Nic Morrison, Mr. and Mrs Bill Mott, Mr. David Mounfield.

Mr. Freddie Mountain, Mr. and Mrs Graham Mulley, Mr. James Murray, Mr. Colin Myler, Mr. Michael Nelson, Mr. Gus Newell, Mr. Paul Newman, Mr. William Newman, Mr. Desmond Nichols, Ms Kay Nichols, Mr. Brian Nicholson, Mr. Chris Nicholson, Mr. J A G Nicoll, Mr. Bill Nutting, Mr. Bill O’Connell, Mr. Robin Oakley, Mr. Paul Palmer, Mr. Brian Park, Ms Sandra Parsons, Mr. Peter Paterson, Miss Sue Peart, Mrs Cathy Peters, Mr. Allan Petrie, Mr. and Mrs Laurie Pignon, Mr. Bob Phillis, Professor Robert Pinker, Mr. Nick Pollard, Commander Francis Ponsonby, Mr. Paul Potts, Mr. E Preston, Mr. Allan Prosser, Mr. Stewart Purvis.

Mr. Douglas Radcliffe, Mr. Ivan Radley, Mr. Jeffrey Rayner, Mrs Joan Read, Mr. and Mrs Chris Rees, Mr. Chris Rendel, Mr. and Mrs Alwyn Robinson, Mr. Frank Robson, Mr. Graeme Rossiter, Mr. J Royle, Mr. Adam Ruck, Mr. Piers Russell-Dobb, Mr. Bob Satchwell, Mr. R Schofield, Mr. Paul Scott, Mr. Brian Scovell, Mr. Lawrence Sear, Mr. James Sergeant, Mr. and Mrs Derek Shaw, Mr. Richard Shaw, Mr. Ned Sherrin, Mrs Louise Smale.

Mr. Ramsay Smith, Mr. and Mrs John Southgate, Ms June Southworth, Miss Emma St John-Smith, Mr. Robin Stafford, Mr. Geoffrey Staines, Mr. Derek Stark, Mr. David Staveley, Ms Jacqui Stephens, Mrs Stewart Steven, Mr. and Mrs Alan Stewart, Mr. Bert Stimpson, Ms June Stubbs, Mr. P Sutton, Miss Felicity Swan, Miss Sharon Tanod, Dr. Sally J Taylor, Mr. John Teal, Mr. John Teasdale, Miss Rita Thomas, Mr. Douglas Thompson, Ms Linda Thomson, Mrs Pauline Todhunter, Mr. and Mrs Richard Todd.

Mr. John Torode, Mr. Steve Torrington, Mr. Donald Trelford, Mr. W Tudor John, Mr. and Mrs Rodney Tyler, Mr. David Tytler, Mr. Shaun Usher, Mr. B Venables, Mr. Brian Vine, Mr. Brian Viner, Mr. David Wade, Mr. David Walker, Mr. Brian Walsh, Mr. Keith Waterhouse, Mr. Michael Watts, Ms Zelda West-Meads, Mr. Geoffrey Wheatcroft, Mr. John Whelan.

Mr. A J Whitfield, Mr. David Wigg, Professor Roger Williams, Charles Wilson, Ms Heather Wilson, Mr. John Winninton-Ingram, Rabbi Willlam Wolff, Mr. and Mrs John Womersley, Mr. George Woodhouse, Mr. Mark Woods, Mr. and Mrs Ian Wooldridge, Mr. David Wynne-Morgan, Mr. Michael Wynne-Parker, Mr. Eddie Young, Mr. Richard Young.

Mr. Chris Underwood (IOJ), Mr. John Le Neve Johnson (Press Club) with other members of the club, representatives of the Ockenden Adventure and Bournemouth University and many other friends and former colleagues.

Tatchell Essay in Book on 20th Century Protest

An essay by gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell of OutRage! is featured in ‘The Penguin Book of Twentieth Century Protest’, ISBN = 0-67087052-8.

The new book is edited by Brian MacArthur, Associate Editor of ‘The Times’.

It is described by its publisher, Penguin, as an anthology of some of the “most striking and effective” protest writing that “charts the vivid and impassioned debates that surrounded the great themes and events of the twentieth century”.

MacArthur’s book is launched next Monday, 12th October, at the Garrick Club in London.

Tatchell’s essay, “Call Us Queer”, is an exposition of queer politics that originally appeared in ‘The Independent on Sunday’ on 26-July-1992.

His contribution is sandwiched between essays by Ken Saro-Wiwa and Arthur M. Schlesinger. It is one of only four contributions in the book by gay writers — the others being André Gide, James Baldwin, and Peter Wildeblood.

The book features 200 essays by notable figures of twentieth century protest, such as Mahatma Gandhi, Che Guevara, Germain Greer, Nelson Mandela, Leon Trotsky, Simone de Beauvoir, Martin Luther King, Norman Mailer and Sylvia Pankhurst.