What is Peter Tatchell's Agenda Really?

The purported human rights hero Peter Tatchell was in The Guardian yesterday arguing about the age of consent. Errr, why? Why does Peter Tatchell want more sex education, for younger children, and a lower age of consent?

The Guardian, a newspaper which has long been sympathetic to his position, provides a platform for him to make a rather nonsensical argument which really makes me feel uncomfortable. It seems to be about affirming & decriminalising our mistakes and errors. If something is wrong, you simply change the law to make it right. It's nothing about addressing the underlying issues which cause the problem. Baffling. Unless you look back a few years an check Peter Tatchell's long history on this issue.

Having posted the Guardian link on my Facebook page, my friend the journalist Ruari McCallion, who has a considerable advantage on me both in terms of age and wisdom, supplied me with some interesting history which exposes Peter Tatchell's claim to be a 'human rights campaigner' for the tissue of mendacity it is. He is a campaigner for unregulated sex with children - the only restriction would be civil lawsuit, which only the wealthy would be able to afford.

As an 18-year-old Australian immigrant, Peter Tatchell came to the UK in 1971 seeking to avoid the Vietnam draft. He first lived with a 16-year-old boy in London. The homosexual age of consent in England at the time was 21 (the lowering of the homosexual age of consent was forced through Parliament using special government powers in 2000). Later he campaigned for lowering it to 16, and now he wants it lowered again to 14. What will he want after that?

When the age of consent for homosexuals was lowered to 16, an Outrage banner (that's Tatchell's homosexual pressure group) said “16 is just a start”. Hmmmm I wonder what the anticipated goal would be?

The fact is, there can be no discussion, no debate, no compromise, this is Tachell pursuing a paedophile agenda. He has been semi-'out' since he contributed a chapter to Betrayal of Youth, over 30 years ago (for crossword aficionados, the initial letter acrostic forms the word 'boy') which was entitled "Questioning Ages of Majority and Ages of Consent". In it he argued that the age of majority (sexual consent) is Re-inforcing a set of increasingly quaint, minority moral values left over from the Victorian era.’ 

The idea that the age of consent might just protect children from predatory men, men like his co-contributors to that book, is not one that has found any sympathy with Peter Tatchell. In fact, he denies it. Which is akin to denying the existence of a nose on one's face.

In short, in 30-odd years he has not changed his tune although he varies the volume from time to time.
it is important that Tatchell's agenda is kept in the public eye. Someone who should be reminded of it on a regular basis is Cristina Odone, who seems to have fallen under his glamour.

Anyway, here is a letter from Tatchell, which was published in The Guardian in 1997. In the interests of fairness, his justification of the letter follows:

"...it is time society acknowledged the truth that not all sex involving children is unwanted abusive and harmful.” ~Peter Tatchell
Here's a transcript you might find easier to read, with my emphasis on the unbelievable bits:

BYLINE: Peter Tatchell.
LENGTH: 480 words
ROS Coward (Why Dares to Speak says nothing useful, June 23) thinks it is “shocking” that Gay Men’s Press has published a book, Dares To Speak, which challenges the assumption that all sex involving children and adults is abusive. I think it is courageous.

The distinguished psychologists and anthropologists cited in this book deserve to be heard. Offering a rational, informed perspective on sexual relations between younger and older people, they document examples of societies where consenting inter-generational sex is considered normal, beneficial and enjoyable by old and young alike.

Prof Gilbert Herdt points to the Sambia tribe of Papua New Guinea, where all young boys have sex with older warriors as part of their initiation into manhood. Far from being harmed, Prof Herdt says the boys grow up to be happy, well-adjusted husbands and fathers.

The positive nature of some child-adult sexual relationships is not confined to non-Western cultures. Several of my friends – gay and straight, male and female – had sex with adults from the ages of nine to 13. None feel they were abused. All say it was their conscious choice and gave them great joy.

While it may be impossible to condone paedophilia, it is time society acknowledged the truth that not all sex involving children is unwanted, abusive and harmful.

Peter Tatchell.
Rockingham Street,
London SE1.
LOAD-DATE: June 26, 1997

A "clarification', published 2010:
"The Guardian letter cited above may give the wrong impression. After all, it was edited by the newspaper without my knowledge or consent, excluding some key qualifications and explanations – which I set out below.
The idea that I advocate paedophilia is laughable, sick, untrue and defamatory. I do not and never have.

Dares to Speak was an academic book published in 1997, authored by professors, anthropologists, psychologists, a Dutch senator and a former editor of a Catholic newspaper. It questioned ages of consent and whether all sex between children and adults is necessarily
harmful. It discussed the balance between giving young people sexual rights and protecting them against abuse. This is an entirely legitimate issue to discuss.

I do not condone adults having sex with children. My Guardian letter about this book was in defence of free speech and open debate about the issue, in opposition to those who said that the book and the debate it generated should not happen and should be closed down. I was against calls for censorship. Even if Dares to Speak is entirely wrong, in a free society its authors have a right to be published and heard.

My Guardian letter cited examples of Papuan tribes and some of my friends who had sex with adults while they were still children, but who do not feel they were harmed. I was not endorsing their viewpoint but merely stating that they had a different perspective from the mainstream one about inter-generational sex. They have every right for their perspective to be heard. If they say they were not harmed, we should respect that (while also recognising that many people are
harmed by early sexual experiences).

My Guardian letter did say very clearly that paedophilia is “impossible” to condone – meaning that I don’t condone it. Here’s an example of what I wrote in the Irish Independent two years ago:

Irish Independent – 10 March 2008

“The time has come for a calm, rational debate about the age of consent. It should be premised on four aims. First, protecting young people against sex abuse. Second, empowering them to make wise, responsible sexual choices. Third, removing the legal obstacles to earlier, more effective sex education. Fourth, ensuring better contraception and condom provision to prevent unwanted pregnancies and abortions and to cut the spread of sexual infections like HIV.”
You can see that I made protecting young people against sex abuse my
first priority.

I have said similar things in many other articles and interviews. See this Guardian article, published in September last year: http://www.petertatchell.net/.../dontcriminaliseyoungsex...It is true that I support reducing the legal consent age to 14. But I support 14 in order to end the criminalisation of the many young people who have sexual contact with each other from this age onwards.

More than half of all British teenagers have their first sexual experience (not necessarily full intercourse) at around the age of 14. I do not advocate them having sex at this early age. It is best if they wait. But I don’t think that consenting 14 years olds should be dragged to court and threatened with prison. I certainly do not endorse adults having sex with young people aged 14.
My critics may disagree with me on the age of consent, but I have advocated a clear ethical stance and moral framework, which stresses sex with mutual consent, respect and fulfilment. My arguments and articles are not about abusing young people but protecting them.
That’s my motive.

I hope this clarifies and reassures you.
Best wishes, Peter Tatchell"
If anyone is still in any doubt that his above mitigation seems clearly to be nothing more than an attempt at obfuscation, I refer them back to "Betrayal of Youth". And, indeed, the letter published in The Guardian. You will note that he has not reproduced the original letter, which he claims was 'edited'. As The Guardian has been sympathetic to Tatchell for decades, one must wonder what was in the original?

It is very difficult to see how one can read Tatchell's comments as anything other than advocacy for child-adult sex. Obviously he knows just how risky this is, perhaps the one great taboo left in our society? Yet he sails as close to the wind as he dares, cloaking his position in a cloud of academic speculation and "human rights hero" reputation. Despite this, it seems clear that his agenda is extremely worrying and follows the teleology one might expect, given his position on so many issues. Like Peter’s claim that schoolchildren should be taught fellatio and cunnilingus, as a ‘safe’ option. And his absurd claim that the new ‘morality’ means that all sexualities are equally valid. This is nothing short a rejection of morality altogether, it is a stance that claims that as long there is mutual consent, then anything goes and his philosophy is comfortable including children.

Even in The Guardian piece that I link to at the start of this blog, Tatchell is claiming that consent is king. The answer to problem pregnancies, teenage relationship violence, underage sex, an increase in STD's and abortion, is to legitimise them, then they'll be OK. Let's face it, we have already been conditioned to sexual congress between adolescents is to be expected and to be fair to Tatchell, this approach has worked well for the homosexual lobby, there's no reason it can't continue to work as he campaigns to normalise sex with children.

I don't want to do a huge theological number on you to show you how Tatchell's position is morally and ethically wrong. I don't need to I don't think. It is blatently obvious from his own comments that there are serious questions to be asked about what exactly it is that Tatchell advocates. If someone so prominent and so lauded can be so wrong about such an important issue, isn't it about time we questioned his whole agenda?

He responds that he has always opposed adults having sex with kids:

But as I have shown here, he is on record as saying something else - and it is worth emphasising that he has never formally retracted or apologised for his contribution to Betrayal of Youth. He consistently speaks in favour of reducing the age of consent; I would be inclined to understand anyone who suggested that such behaviour could be regarded as deliberate dishonesty, intended to conceal the real agenda. The established reality is that paedophiles tell lies in order to get their way. Cloaking such lies with a veneer of academic philosophising does not alter their nature; untruths remain untrue. Lies remain lies.

While he claims that he is not arguing for adults to have sex with children, his published words say otherwise. As shown above, he is on record as supporting adult/child sexual relations.
Let me remind you of his own words:
‘The positive nature of some child-adult sexual relationships is not confined to non-Western cultures. Several of my friends – gay and straight, male and female – had sex with adults from the ages of nine to 13. None feel they were abused. All say it was their conscious choice and gave them great joy.

‘While it may be impossible to condone paedophilia, it is time society acknowledged the truth that not all sex involving children is unwanted, abusive and harmful.’
As part of the above Twitter exchange, Tatchell told me that the BNP started these rumours:

Indeed, the BNP did post an article in February this year, picking up on this. But Peter Hitchens is also onto Tatchell, see here his article which is four years older than the BNP one. Another attempt by Tatchell to discredit his critics?

The terrifying reality is that paedophiles - people that Tatchell has willingly associated with - want to abuse your children. You and I both know that they tell lies in order to achieve this goal.

People have the right to protect their children and that right overrides any other claimed 'right' to pleasure that Tatchell may claim or argue for, in his explanatory essay here. Society has not just a right but the responsibility to protect children from sexual predators. If sexual expression were a human right as he argues, the state would surely be obligated to provide sexual expression -- at least in some way -- to people with unorthodox/perverse/abnormal sexual desires. If someone exclusively desired sex with dead bodies, the state would have to accommodate that desire. There's no consent issue after all. This whole train of thought is utterly bizarre and repulsive.

Children do not have the experience to make informed decisions. We don't send them out to cross the road on their own until they have been taught how to do it and then repeatedly drilled and practised till they get it right. Traffic has no subtle, seductive arguments, unlike people.

Children tend to be trusting. They rely on adults for food and shelter. That trust is abused so routinely that we go out of our way to protect children from those who would abuse them.

The age of consent is not about stopping children from leading fulfilling lives - quite the opposite. It is about protecting children from the lies and manipulation of people who would destroy their lives, for their own ends.

People pushing this agenda want to abuse your children.


  1. I think (though I don't have the medical knowledge) a man having sex with a girl of 9 would damage her internal organs, as yet underdeveloped; any pleasure gained in the process would thus be had at an unacceptable price. Any boy who is prepared to ask this price is not the sort I would want to be around my daughter; consent or no, he'd be taking advantage of her to an extent tantamount to abuse.

    1. Yes but remember that "having sex" for Peter Tatchell, does likely not even include intercourse.

  2. I suspect Tatchell is just muddled here rather than having a deliberate agenda. The logic of his (and mainstream society's) position -sex is a simple physical pleasure which we should get as much of as possible- is that children should be encouraged to have sex as early as possible. That was pretty much the message in the 60s and 70s. Since then, there's been a glimmer of a return to commonsense and a realization that children need to be protected. But rather than going back to a consistent moral position (sex within marriage for the sake of procreation) society has put all the weight of supporting its desire for children's protection on consent: 'children are too young to consent to sex'. Well, it's a weight that consent can't support for any number of reasons (eg why, if sex is a simply pleasure, should we put more restraint on it than (eg) buying sweets?).

    Tatchell's position doesn't make sense and that's why he keeps tripping himself up.

    1. Good, sensible points Lazarus. Question: As Peter Hitchens summarises in the article linked to in the blog, Tatchell is a man who has stated: 'Not all sex involving children is unwanted and abusive'. He has said this more than once. Do you see this attitude as problematic?

    2. 'Problematic' would be too mild! But I do think it's entirely consistent with his (and the modern world's) assumptions. As you've pointed out, Tatchell's view of what constitutes sex goes beyond the normal penetrative act oriented towards procreation. So I'd hesitate to assume that all 'sexual' acts, by all children, in all circumstances, would be unwanted. And as for harm, whilst I'd certainly say that any such sex would damage a child in its natural and supernatural ends, Tatchell would no doubt restrict 'harm' to very crude mental or physical damage: if you have the very restricted modern view of the good life, practically the only thing that will clearly harm you is severe physical injury.

      From a Catholic (and indeed traditional Protestant) point of view, sex outside marriage and the procreative end was wrong but it was wrong not simply because it was unwanted or physically damaging. Modern secularized society has retained some sense of the natural law in the case of children but is forced to try and re-express that wrongness in the very limited moral categories it has available: lack of consent and gross mental or physical damage. I suspect that Tatchell is clear sighted enough to see those reasons won't do the job required, but -either because he genuinely retains some moral sense or simply because he'd face too much opprobrium otherwise- he is unwilling to follow the logic of his position and advocate sex with children explicitly.

    3. Well put, I come far from the liberal left, and wish adults with other consenting adults to do safely with each other whatever they wish, up to the point in involves children, i.e anyone under 16.
      Teaching children honestly and accurately about sex is vital and necessary, we're sexual creatures after all, but it's quite simple enough to be liberal and draw a line at children and adults having intercourse.
      Similarly teenagers consenting to intercourse within their own age groups doesn't bother me as long as they're sufficiently educated about what they're doing.
      It is clear biologically that men find younger women attractive, this is an evolutionary consequence, same goes for women finding old men attractive, however society allows to operate against our basic programming and have long periods without children to become more functional adults.
      t's like harm to children's genitals, male or female by adults, anytime this is done for non-medical reasons against a person who by definition cannot consent, it is wrong, or did I miss morality 101?

      To ask a very simple moral question; unlike with theft or lying where the exception of starvation or a Jew in the attic make it OK, infact possibly your only moral action. I can think of no situation where sex with children is OK, unless they're literally the last other human alive.

      I would welcome any well informed debate on these topics with people as reasonable as yourselves.

  3. I've never endorsed adults having sex with kids. This speech from 2010 sets out my real views including education to protect young people from sexual abuse. READ: http://bit.ly/opVrXm

    1. You are also on record as saying that you had no idea of what sort of book "Betrayal of Youth" was and what it was advocating.

      I have to say that I struggle to accept that. I do so because you were a member of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) at the same time as Warren Middleton, who edited that book. I presume he asked you directly for your contribution. Were you really unaware that he was a member of the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE)?

      What do you think a book subtitled "Radical Perspectives on Childhood Sexuality, Intergenerational Sex, and the Social Oppression of Children and Young People" was going to be about? Why do you think you were asked to contribute your thoughts on 'Questioning Ages of Majority and Ages of Consent'? What did you expect to be talking about, if not lifting restrictions on sexual activity with young people?

      Father Michael Ingram, the now-deceased former Dominican priest and another contributor to Betrayal of Youth, made his interest in children very clear and I would be surprised if you did not know him or had not encountered him. He was quite a loud voice around the GLF of the 1970s - at a time when you were very actively involved.

      You wrote an obituary of Ian Campbell Dunn, who died in 1998. The Obituary was published in the Independent, 21 March 1998. You described him as "...a pioneer for lesbian and gay human rights...", mentioned that he founded the Scottish Minorities Group and its successor, Outright Scotland; convened the International Gay Rights Congress in Edinburgh in 1974, which led to the formation of the International Lesbian & Gay Association (ILGA); helped to launch Gay News and edited Gay Scotland for many years; co-founded the Edinburgh Gay & Lesbian Community Centre in 1974; and campaigned vigorously on LBGT issues in the Labour Party and trade unions. Clearly a man for whom you had respect and admiration and you appear to have known him well.

      So what happened to his role as a founder of PIE and his services to the organisation as its global mail centre? Why did you not mention it? Why so coy? Did that slip your mind or did it seem a bit 'beyond the pale'?

      One strives to avoid speaking ill of the dead, of course. Dunn also claimed that his work for PIE was in the interests of 'free speech'... Now, where have I heard that before? Something about being courageous?

      Roger Moody, another member of PIE who also contributed to Betrayal of Youth, was an activist in GLF at the same time as you.

      I have to concede that I have not - so far - found an example of you openly and actively endorsing adults having sex with kids. What I have found is weasel words 9my description), academic justification and defence of those who do advocate sex with kids - in the interests of 'free speech', of course. In short, an abundance of sophistry - but outright advocacy? No, I have not.

      You do not do it yourself but your words and actions defend those who do. In so doing, you facilitate those who would abuse children.

  4. Peter - this is something I have trouble with. You say that you have never endorsed adults having sex with kids yet your own words suggest otherwise.

    You have never apologised for what your earlier words or recanted them. If they were not your view at the time, why did you not sue the Guardian for libel? The reasonable man on the Clapham Omnibus would no doubt challenge your assertion that your view has been consistent.

  5. If nothing else it highlights the hypocrisy of Peter's vociferous involvement in the Protest the Pope movement.

    Peter repeatedly (and rightly) condemned pedophiles and made an awful lot of noise about priests who were sexual offenders.

    Atonement for previous remarks which encouraged and condoned grooming (for that is what attempting to gain consent of underage children is) or straightfoward projection?

  6. Mr Tatchell did indeed make a lot of noise about pedophiles.... well, pedophile priests, in particular.

    What a shame that he apparently did not see any need to denounce expelled Dominican priest Fr Michael Ingram, who he could not fail to have encountered through their shared activism in the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) in the 1970s. What a shame he was not sufficiently concerned back then to report him to the police. Or to appear as a prosecution witness at Ingram's trial.

    I wonder whether Tatchell's 'Lee' character was based on information received from Ingram, or someone else?

    'Lee' is a subject I shall be returning to, along with Johann Hari's 'Leroy'.

    [Don't even begin to THINK of going there, Caroline. It's a sewer]

  7. And this man's organisation is being invited into Catholic schools to "advise" on homosexual bullying etc.

    There was not much paedophilia, in the strict sense, among the RC clergy. It was homosexuality with adolescents, in the main. But the gay lobby had to shout "paedophilia" often and loudly because what it really was was something they approve of.


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