Labelling Peter Tatchell as a racist isn’t no-platforming. It’s just ignorance | Archie Bland

An NUS representative’s refusal to share a stage with the gay rights campaigner is her decision – and her loss. Freedom of speech should be for everyone

Peter Tatchell, a racist? Not even the activist’s most reactionary enemies had the cynical cunning to think of that one. In his extraordinary 50-year career as a political campaigner, Tatchell has faced many unjustified slurs on his character as part of concerted attempts to shut him up. But it took an officer of the National Union of Students to denounce him as a bigot.

In doing so, Fran Cowling, the NUS’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) representative, has transformed a debate that is due to take place at Canterbury Christ Church University on Monday evening from an obscure discussion on the most effective way of pushing forward the case for gay rights, into a referendum on the merits of the controversial “no platform” policy which has become such a fraught subject over the last year or so.

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An NUS representative’s refusal to share a stage with the gay rights campaigner is her decision – and her loss. Freedom of speech should be for everyone

Peter Tatchell, a racist? Not even the activist’s most reactionary enemies had the cynical cunning to think of that one. In his extraordinary 50-year career as a political campaigner, Tatchell has faced many unjustified slurs on his character as part of concerted attempts to shut him up. But it took an officer of the National Union of Students to denounce him as a bigot.

In doing so, Fran Cowling, the NUS’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) representative, has transformed a debate that is due to take place at Canterbury Christ Church University on Monday evening from an obscure discussion on the most effective way of pushing forward the case for gay rights, into a referendum on the merits of the controversial “no platform” policy which has become such a fraught subject over the last year or so.

 

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