Peter Tatchell; a secular saint?

Tonight saw Channel 4 broadcast Peter Tatchell’s documentary, The Trouble With The Pope, which was a sober, consider documentary making a strong case as to why Joe Ratzinger isn’t someone who should be welcomed with open arms to the UK this week.  

Many were expecting a vociferous and angry attack, not only on Joe Ratzinger but also on Catholics, but Peter put forward his argument in a quiet, considered way, that let the viewer (those of sound mind at least) develop their own sense of anger towards Ratzinger and toward the Vatican.  He pointed to how Ratzinger had been a reformer and a liberal in his earlier years.  He also put forward what action he would like from the Vatican, rather than simply writing off the Catholic community he asked that the church become more liberal towards sexual inclination, stopped lying about condoms and Aids and gave over all evidence of abuse by priests to secular authorities in the relevant countries (and that’s every country the Vatican’s tendrils stretch across, such is the commonality of the abuse).  

Peter met people who through he was evil due to his homosexuality, who were causing poverty by spreading lies about contraception and he met victims of abuse, without ever losing his temper. I was of course, shouting at the screen.  

I think it’s time that we all paused for a moment and gave Peter a round of applause.  To many he may be seen as an uber-troller, forever getting in faces, getting angry, making uncomfortable scenes.  Sometimes his methods are distasteful, I personally don’t agree with outing (  However, I haven’t had to suffer the horrors of a society that discriminates against me merely because of my sexual inclination.  

However, Peter has always been brave.  For instance, when he went to Moscow’s Gay Pride, knowing full well that not only would the Moscow police not protect him and his fellow marchers (including Richard Fairbrass, quite brilliantly), that they’d actively encourage violence from an ultra-violent skinhead and fascist community of gangs who don’t only rough people up, but frequently cause serious injury and death towards gays, immigrants and well, anyone they consider to be at the ‘fringes’ of society.  

Then there was when he went up against Nick Griffin. Again facing down his  

BNP: a nose for trouble

BNP: a nose for trouble

goons knowing that, even with the cameras there, the BNP have no compunction in using violence against anyone who stands against them as this journalist found out:  

Tatchell after Mugabe's goons

Mugabe's batmen left Tatchell bloody, bruised and injured

Then there’s Mugabe who left Tatchell bloody, bruised and injured.  

Tatchell has even suffered more personal abuse closer to home, such as in his bid to become a Labour MP in Southwark in the 80s, in which he was victim of a nasty homophobic campaign by the Lib Dem darling himself, Simon Hughes (who has since issued one of the sincerest apologies in political history to be fair) – 
In tonight’s documentary Peter never spoke negatively about Catholicism, only about the hypocrisy and hatefulness of Joe Ratzinger and of the Vatican. Indeed, Peter’s non-violent protest, often in the face of genuine danger is the kind of thing one reads about the early christians doing.  Maybe catholics should think about that before they accuse him again of attacking their church.  For me, as an atheist* who believes in social justice and the equality of all, Peter Tatchell has a strong case  for being a secular saint.
*I’m actually agnostic but as there’s no evidence whatever of a God of any religion in every meaningful way I am an atheist



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Filed under Catholic Church, Hompophobia, Joe Ratzinger, Simon Hughes, Tatchell, Uncategorized, Vatican

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