The actor and Stonewall co-founder, Sir Ian McKellen is to unveil a blue plaque placed outside the flat where the gay and human rights activist Peter Tatchell has based his campaigns, particularly for Outrage!, the LGBT rights group he founded.
The official unveiling outside Mr Tatchell’s flat in Arrol House, Southwark, South London will take place on Wednesday.
Mr Tatchell has campaigned on gay and human rights around the world for over 40 years and in 1983 unsuccessfully stood for election for the Labour party in the Bermondsey by-election. The poll in the constituency where he still lives was marred by the most open homophobia ever seen in a British election. It was won by Simon Hughes, dubbed the ‘straight choice’ to the openly gay Mr Tatchell. The former came out as bisexual himself in 2006.
Blue Plaques are placed outside properties connected to influential people, with the exception of Southwark (where Mr Tatchell lives), these are generally placed on buildings after the death of the individual concerned. Mr Tatchell’s flat was awarded this status after a public vote.
Commenting on being awarded a Blue Plaque, Mr Tatchell said: “It is a big honour. I am very grateful to the people who voted for me, especially since there were other notable, worthy and deserving nominees. I hope my receipt of this award will encourage others to campaign for human rights. I have lived in Southwark most of my life and I am very proud to be part of its long, illustrious history of distinguished authors, playwrights, scientists, inventors and social reformers.
“I appreciate this award, but the greatest honour I’ve had is the privilege to know and work with so many amazing, courageous human rights defenders in Britain and around the world. That’s the real, true honour to me.
“Nevertheless, after so many years of demonisation by the tabloids, right-wingers, homophobes and even some people on the left, it is great to receive this recognition.
“My proudest achievements as a human rights campaigner have been my two attempted citizen’s arrests of the Zimbabwean dictator, Robert Mugabe. They helped draw international attention to the human rights abuses perpetrated by his murderous regime. I was glad to support the people of Zimbabwe who are fighting for democracy and human rights. Even though I got badly beaten by Mugabe’s bodyguards and have ended up with some brain and eye damage, I have no regrets.”
The unveiling takes place at 11am on the 29th September outside Mr Tatchell’s flat, 62 Arrol House, Rockingham Street, London SE1 6QL.