Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell is today being awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws by De Montfort University in Leicester.
The award is being given in recognition of his 47 year of human rights campaigning.
Also receiving the awards today is House of Commons Speaker, John Bercow, who is a strong advocate for equality.
In his acceptance speech, Mr Tatchell said: “In accepting this honour, I pay tribute to the many heroic, inspirational activists I have worked with…I am so lucky to have had the privilege to know and support so many amazing, courageous human rights defenders around the world. I walk in their shadow, humbled by their bravery and sacrifice.
“Be sceptical, question authority, be a rebel. Don’t conform and never be ordinary. Shun the mob, think for yourself. Be your own special creation. Be a change-maker for the upliftment of humanity. To quote my fellow sodomite and socialist Oscar Wilde: ‘We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.’”
Andrew Rees, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Business and Law, De Montfort University, said in his citation for Mr Tatchell: “In every sense Peter has lived his life with great courage and moral conviction, and his example should provide an inspiration to us all.
“A characteristic of Peter’s activism has been his bravery, and at this time in your lives it is important for you all to face the challenges ahead with the same bravery and courageousness. We will all face challenges and our progress is dependent on how we meet them and overcome them.”
He continued: “Through tireless campaigning Peter and his fellow human rights campaigners have made tremendous progress, and due to their dedication, ingenuity and commitment, many of the homophobic injustices of previous decades will no longer be felt by generations to come.
“However the progress must still continue on. Peter had long campaigned for the recent introduction of same-sex marriage, and he continues to tackle homophobia including hate crimes and bullying in schools – a campaign which we all fully support.
“Together with his work to tackle homophobia, Peter has lead notable campaigns against all forms of injustice, advocating on behalf of those suffering and invariably helping to create change in their lives.”
Mr Rees concluded, saying: “To finish, I would like quote Peter in his own words: “Don’t accept the world as it is. Dream about what the world could be – then help make it happen.”
“We should seek to emulate this man who has dedicated his life to campaigning for justice in all its forms, for; human rights, LGBT freedom, economic fairness and the environment – to name just a few.”