6 Nov 2009

Peter Tatchell responds to more abuse from Andy Newman

There seems to be a full on hate campaign against Peter Tatchell, one of the most honorable Green Party activists I know, disagreement is one thing, a full scale assault on the truth is another.


Andy Newman’s post (12.) repeats the false allegations against myself and OutRage! by a group of African LGBTI activists.

Most African LGBTI activists refused to sign the letter denouncing us.

Please read our side of the story (below), which is very different from the allegations against us.

We have always worked in cooperation with, and at the request of, African activists. We did exactly what they asked us to do.

Then, one African LGBTI activist did not like the fact that we also credited and quoted activists from rival LGBTI groups. So, this activist spread lies against us in revenge, and persuaded others to sign the letter denouncing us.

Here is our version:

African Coalition and campaign disagreements

OutRage! responds to false, sectarian smears

London – 20 February 2007

On 30 January 2007, a group of African activists issued a news release headed:

“African LGBTI Human Rights Defenders Warn Public Against Participation in Campaigns Concerning LGBTI Issues in Africa Led by Peter Tatchell and Outrage!”

Here is the response of OutRage! and Peter Tatchell.

Kizza Musinguzi, African Affairs spokesperson for OutRage! and a Ugandan gay rights activist, said:

“These are untrue, sectarian allegations. They are made mostly by people who have never had any contact with Peter Tatchell or OutRage! Since we have not run any campaigns concerning their countries, how can they accuse us of treating them badly?

“They have been fed lies about us by more conservative gay activists in Africa and the US who hate OutRage!’s radicalism and are jealous of our effective campaigns.

“Those who signed the anti-OutRage! statement did so on the basis of allegations that are entirely false. Some signatories signed in good faith, but they were hoodwinked by people who are out to destroy OutRage!

“OutRage! has always acted in response to appeals for help from Nigerian and Ugandan LGBTI groups. We supported their struggles. Most African groups recognise this. Only a small minority signed the letter denouncing us. We continue to work with all the Nigerian gay groups and two of the Ugandan gay groups. We enjoy their confidence and support. If we had done anything wrong, they would not still be working with us. Even some of the people who signed the letter criticising us are now working with us again. They now realise the allegations against us were unfair.

“Nigerian and Ugandan gay groups are divided, with different groups pursuing different agendas and tactics. It is partly a divide between well-funded groups and volunteer grassroots activists, and between reformists and radicals. OutRage! supports them all, but works most closely with the grassroots radicals. The more reformist groups resent this. They don’t like the fact that we work with the radicals, who they see as rivals. They want exclusive control of the gay rights movement in their country. Many do little or no work with progressive / left African political parties and human rights groups, whereas OutRage! and its African allies advocate cooperation between gay rights groups and left parties, trade unions and civil society movements.

“Some of this dispute is also about money. There is competition for funding. Certain organisations see others as competitors. They want to be seen to be doing all the important work, so they can get the lion’s share of the funding.

“According to the mostly conservative African LGBTI groups who condemned us, the proposed new Nigerian anti-gay legislation was dead and there was no need to campaign against it. This lulled everyone into a false sense of security. Acting on warnings from our Nigerian activist allies that the legislation was likely to be revived, OutRage! urged a global campaign against the new law. Some of the conservative groups saw us as challenging their power and authority. That is why they denounced us and tricked others into signing their statement, based on lurid untrue allegations. In fact, OutRage! and our Nigerian allies were proven correct. The legislation was revived and the international LGBTI movement was caught napping,” said Mr Musinguzi.

His views are echoed by Peter Tatchell:

“I have supported every African liberation movement struggle for nearly 40 years – in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau, Eritrea, Darfur and the Western Sahara,” said Mr Tatchell.

“For two decades, I have worked in solidarity with African gay groups. Indeed, I initiated the first international campaign to support the newly emergent African LGBTI movements in the early 1980s, fund-raising for their cause. Until now, no African LGBTI groups have complained or criticised my work. All have appreciated the support given to their campaigns.

“Contrary to the allegations made against us, our news releases do not contain untrue information, we do not exaggerate homophobic repression, our campaigns have not caused damage and we have never put anyone’s life in danger. These smears are being spread by reformist political opponents in Africa and the US who are trying to discredit OutRage! to advance their own agendas.

“I challenge anyone to show where OutRage! news releases are inaccurate, exaggerated or reckless – or European chauvinist. Such claims are politically-motivated smears.

“Our critics are nearly all paid professional NGO officials. Some are funded by the west. Some are full-time lobbyists who oppose grassroots activism and direct action protests. They say all campaigning should be left to them. Their denunciations look like a bid to maintain their exclusive control over the LGBTI human rights movement in Africa. A number of the signatories resent the fact that OutRage! works with and supports African grassroots groups that they see as rivals.

“A week before these activists denounced us, we halted our Nigerian campaign. We have not campaigned on Uganda for five months. So why did they denounce us?

“This vendetta has nothing to do with gay rights. Certain groups seem more interested in fighting other activists than in fighting homophobia. Their petty jealousies and political sectarianism is undermining the campaign for gay equality in Africa,” said Mr Tatchell.

Ends

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