Peter Tatchell endorses Jeremy Corbyn, but warns of his ‘unsavoury’ friends
Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell has endorsed Jeremy Corbyn to lead the Labour Party – but has warned him to disassociate from “unsavoury bigots”.
The veteran human rights activist spoke out in favour of the left-wing MP, who is the favourite to succeed Ed Miliband as leader of the Labour Party this month.
Elected to Parliament in 1983, Mr Corbyn was one of the first MPs to speak out in favour of LGBT rights, and he has voted unwaveringly in favour of equality – but the politician has also faced pressure in recent weeks over his international links with homophobes.
In a column for the International Business Times, Mr Tatchell wrote: “Like many others, I face a real dilemma. I’ve known Jeremy Corbyn for over 30 years and love nearly everything he stands for.
“Yet there are a few important issues on which I profoundly disagree with him. Does this mean he should no longer have my support?”
He added: “Now that he has a serious chance of winning the Labour leadership, Jeremy has faced a barrage of accusations over his contacts with anti-Semites, Holocaust deniers and Islamist extremists.
“This puts me in a very difficult position, given my advocacy for human rights. At what point do links with bad people put a politician beyond the pale? How many flawed judgements does it take to cancel out all the good that a MP might have done and espoused?”
Mr Tatchell adds that the MP deserves “the benefit of the doubt” as he “has his heart is in the right place”, but warned: “He does need to explain in more detail why he has attended and spoken at meetings alongside some pretty unsavoury bigots who advocate human rights abuses – and especially why he did so without publicly criticising their totalitarian politics.”
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Speaking to PinkNews last month, Jeremy Corbyn said that as Labour leader, he would put gay rights and human rights above international ties.
Ironically, Mr Tatchell sent his comments with an email header from earlier this year still in place, endorsing the Green Party.
Mr Tatchell famously stood as a Labour candidate in 1981 in Bermondsey – but defected to the Green Party in 2004.
His intervention in the contest now is surprising, given he openly endorsed the Green Party over Labour before May’s election – and would likely be barred from voting in the Labour contest.
He wrote in April: “Green is the new pink. For three decades, the Green Party has led the way on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and questioning (LGBTIQ) rights.”
He added: “There are, of course, good people in all political parties and most other parties have some good policies. I salute them. However, the Green Party stands above them all, in my view.”
“The Greens say homophobia is a social evil on a par with racism and sexism, and it must be challenged with equal determination. They believe LGBTIQ people enrich society and that sexual and gender diversity is a positive social good.
“These are a few of the reasons I am voting Green on 7 May. A big pink vote for the Greens will shake up the grey parties and encourage them to adopt more gay-friendly policies.”