London’s Metropolitan Police have announced that they are partnering with LGBT activist Peter Tatchell and his organization, the Peter Tatchell Foundation, in an effort to provide LGBT+ Community Liaison Officers to citizens interacting with the police service. The move has prompted concern on social media with critics pointing to Tatchell’s extensive history of pedophile apologism, noting that he has previously advocated for lowering the legal age of consent.
On Monday, the Metropolitan Police posted a video featuring Tatchell to their Twitter account wherein it is stated that Tatchell will work with law enforcement to “build trust and confidence” in order to “encourage more LGBT+ people to come forward to report hate crimes, domestic violence and sexual assaults.”
In a statement on the London police force’s official website, Commissioner Mark Rowley explained that a campaign by the Peter Tatchell Foundation found that the police force “had systems and processes in place which have led to bias and discrimination.”
As a result of the campaign by the Peter Tatchell Foundation, the Metropolitan Police has commissioned the foundation to deliver LGBT+ Community Liaison Officers.
“Sir Mark is backing up his apology to the LGBT+ community with concrete action. Restoring these dedicated LGBT+ liaison officers will strengthen collaboration between the police and local LGBT+ communities across London. It will help the fight against homophobic hate crimes and ensure better protection for LGBT+ Londoners,” Tatchell said in the statement on the Met’s website.
Peter Tatchell established his foundation in 2011 as a registered charity in order to “protect human rights both in the UK and internationally,” according to the organization’s website. Tatchell has personally been involved in LGBT activism for several decades. During the course of his career as an activist, he has come under fire multiple times for comments he made downplaying the harms of child sexual abuse and has previously advocated for lowering the age of consent.
In 1986, Tatchell contributed a chapter to a book compiled by Warren Middleton, former vice-chairman of the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE), entitled “Betrayal of Youth: Radical perspectives on Childhood Sexuality, Intergenerational Sex, and the Social Oppression of Children and Young People”. PIE, which for a decade advocated for adult-minor sexual relationships to be decriminalized and called for abolishing the age of consent, was disbanded in 1984, and several prominent members were arrested for child sexual abuse offenses.
In Tatchell’s chapter of the book, he argued that laws criminalizing adults for sexually abusing children do more harm than the abuse itself. Other chapters in the book covered child pornography and prostitution, incest and “how to make paedophilia more acceptable.” He later tried to distance himself from this book by claiming he was “conned” into contributing. However, at the time, Tatchell praised the book in a review he penned for The Communist Party of Great Britain.
In the review, Tatchell wrote, “Society would remove a lot of fear, anxiety and depression if, instead of repressing children’s sexuality, it acknowledged the fact that many children have sexual desires at an early age and accordingly educated children, so they are able to make free, informed and responsible decisions about when and with whom they have sex.”
In 1997, Tatchell also contributed to a chapter of a book called Dares to Speak. The book presented a favorable exploration of pedophilia, stressing the “positive nature” of some child-adult sexual relationships, and announcing that several of his friends had had sexual encounters with adults when they were between the ages of 9 to 13. He stated that none were harmed as a result.
Book reviewers at the time criticized the authors, accusing them of attempting to normalize pedophilia and described the book as part of a wider campaign to abolish all ages of consent.
“The book refuses to take seriously sexual abuse and its consequences,” one reviewer, Ros Coward, wrote.
Responding to the criticism, Tatchell wrote to The Guardian defending the book, citing a researcher who described sex between adult men and boys as an initiation ritual into manhood in an indigenous tribe.
“Prof 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.” Tatchell said in his letter to the Guardian.
Tatchell wrote in his letter to The Guardian that while he did not “justify” child abuse, in some cases he believed that children might enjoy sexual interactions with adults.
However, the book chapters are not the only example of Tatchell’s apologism for pedophilia. In 1997 again, Tatchell posted an interview with a 14 year-old boy where they discussed pedophilia and the sexual relationships he had had with adult men that started when he was only 12. The interview was republished in 2007 by IPCE, a Dutch padophile publication.
In the interview titled “I’m 14, I’m gay & I want a boyfriend”, Tatchell asked the 14 year-old, Lee, what he thought about child sexual abusers. He responded, “It depends on what kind of pedophiles…Those who have sex with little kids should be strung up by the bollocks. The pedophiles I knew always asked me if I wanted sex. They didn’t pressure me. If you consent to having sex with a pedophile, it’s fine. If you don’t, it’s not.”
In the interview the boy describes how he was the victim of child prostitution beginning from the age of 12 while he was in the care system. “It was mostly me just wanking them off. I stopped about a year and half ago. When I was doing it, I felt sick. I didn’t enjoy it. I was only doing it for the money to buy drugs – mostly speed, acid and cannabis,” Lee recalled in his interview.
Tatchell also stated that the 14 year-old child prefers relationships with older men. “I don’t get on with people my own age,” the teenager said in the interview. “They’re too immature. I like men in their 20s or early 30s. They are more experienced and serious. With them, you can get into a closer relationship than with a teenager.”
Tatchell used the interview to advocate for lowering the age of consent to 14. “Any man who has sex with Lee could face a maximum sentence of 10 years for kissing, touching, sucking or wanking, and life imprisonment for anal sex,” Tatchell stated in the interview.
Tatchell added a note on the article stating that he does not support children having sex with adults, but rather that children under 16 should not be criminalized for having consenting relationships with other young people of similar ages. However, Lee expressed an interest in relationships with adult men and even told Tatchell he was in a relationship with an adult man in his mid-20s. Tatchell presented the argument that it was not right that Lee and his boyfriend had to wait until he was 18 – the legal age for homosexual male sex in 1997 – before having sex.
“Society won’t accept my feelings. It says I’m forbidden to have sex with a man until I’m 18. A perfect relationship is what I want. It would make me very happy. So why is the law trying to stop me?” Lee said in the close of the interview.
In an opinion piece for The Guardian in 2009 titled “Don’t criminalise young sex”, Tatchell reasserted his position on age of consent laws. “I believe the time has come for a calm, rational reassessment of the age at which young people should be lawfully entitled to have sex. We need this debate because the current age of consent of 16 ignores reality.”
He further argued that the United Kingdom ought to lower the age of consent to 14 years old. Currently in the UK, it is legal for adults to have sexual relations with any teenager over the age of 16. Reducing the age of consent to 14 would potentially decriminalize sexual relationships between adults and children as young as 14.
Tatchell has also been connected to other individuals who were openly involved in pedophile rights groups. In 1998, he wrote a glowing obituary for Ian Dunn, describing him as a “pioneer for lesbian and gay human rights”. Dunn was one of the founding members of the pedophile rights group known as the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE).
PIE was formed in 1974 and used similar arguments as those made by Tatchell to normalize pedophilia by presenting the issue as a matter of children’s rights to have “consensual” sex while arguing that age of consent laws restricted children’s freedom. In reality, PIE was an insidious lobby group consisting of open pedophiles and child abusers who were campaigning for adults to be legally allowed to sexually abuse children under the guise of sexual liberation. According to the 1983 book The Child-Lovers – a study of paedophiles in society, PIE surveyed its members in 1978 and found that they were most sexually interested in girls aged 8 to 11 and boys aged 11 to 15 years old.
“They didn’t emphasize that this was 50-year-old men wanting to have sex with five-year-olds. They presented it as the sexual liberation of children, that children should have the right to sex,” journalist Christian Wolmar told The BBC about PIE in 2014.
Keith Hose, one of PIE’s leaders, was quoted as saying: “I am a paedophile. I am attracted to boys from about 10, 11, and 12 years of age. I may have had sexual relations with children, but it would be unwise to say.”
More recently, Peter Tatchell has attempted to distance himself from the allegations of being sympathetic towards child sexual abusers. In 2018, after feminist journalist and author Julie Bindel called attention to his obituary for Dunn, Tatchell denied having any knowledge of his friend’s association with PIE.
In 2020, he published a statement on his website condemning child sexual abuse saying, “My writing on the age of consent has been solely concerned with ending the criminalization of young people of similar ages.”
Also in 2020, Tatchell blasted Southwark Labour for attempting to prevent homosexual men from having sex in a public park. He described their move to cut down trees in Burgess Park in London to discourage men from having sex in public as “eco-vandalism” and “homophobia”. The Council obtained a one-year injunction from the local court, beginning from August 28, 2020, which banned anti-social behavior in the park due to the area being a popular spot for men to meet for sex, even in broad daylight.
This month, Tatchell also publicly defended former TV presenter Philip Schofield, who abruptly left his popular daytime show after it was discovered he had an affair with a young male colleague whom he had met as a child. Schofield was accused of grooming the young man, as he had been interacting with him on social media when he was underage. Tatchell blasted the accusations as homophobia.
“The trashing of Philip Schofield has more than a whiff of homophobia. Anti-gay prejudice is explicit on social media and implicit in much of the national media,” Tatchell states on his website.
Tatchell has become a vocal advocate for gender identity ideology while openly opposing gender critical feminists such as Germaine Greer and J. K. Rowling. He advocates for allowing men who identify as women to use women’s spaces, including for male rapists to be housed in female prisons.
The Met police force also has a shocking history of violence against women and sexual harassment and abuse from within their ranks. In March 2021, a Met police officer kidnapped and murdered a 33 year-old Sarah Everard. The police officer, Wayne Couzens, had previously been reported for indecent exposure, but was not arrested and was permitted to continue serving as a police officer.
Following Everard’s murder, a report was carried out into institutionalized misogyny in the Met Police which uncovered that there may be more officers like Couzens, and found the force had failed to protect the public from officers who abuse women.
Currently, approximately 800 Met police officers are under investigation for sexual violence and domestic abuse claims.